Back in December I introduced Strong Language, a new group blog about the use, culture, and linguistics of profanity cooked up by James Harbeck and me. While some of you are now regular readers, others may be unaware of it or glad of a reminder or an update, so this post can address that. The language below may offend, so caveat lector.
Strong Language started well and this year has gone from strength to sweary strength. We’ve redesigned its appearance, partnered with Slate’s Lexicon Valley, and added more writers to the team of regular contributors. The @stronglang Twitter account ties in with the blog but does its own stuff too, such as film stills and swearwords of the day.
I’ve written ten posts for Strong Language and have as many more in various stages of completion or planning. Published posts look at filthy old songs, Irish English shite, multilingual swearing, and Rob Chirico’s book Damn!, among other things. I also compile ‘Sweary links’ – like the ‘Link love’ posts here on Sentence first, but swearing-related.
Other SLers have written about how many swears we have not given (Stephen Chrisomalis), the trouble with retard(ed) (Iva Cheung), rude phrases for cold weather (Karen Conlin), masturbatory slang (Jonathon Green), the intensifying affixal -shit, (Kory Stamper), a sweary primer on pragmatics (James Harbeck), DIY oathmaking (Daniel Sosnoski), mother _uckers in branding (Nancy Friedman), the culture of swear jars (John Kelly), St Patrick’s bad language (Terry O’Hagan), and when shit hits the newspapers (Ben Zimmer).
That’s just a flavour – there are over 80 posts so far, and new ones appear regularly, if unpredictably. That of course is part of the fun: it’s a constant pleasure to see what people come up with next and the enthusiasm and flair with which they pull it off. So if you’re interested in language that is rude, vulgar, taboo, and profane, go forth and visit, subscribe, bookmark, blog-roll (is that a verb yet?), and spread the bad word about Strong Language.
Thanks for the post, I must have missed the news in Dec. What a fun blog!
I forget when I stumbled on Strong Language – but I know it was well before I found this blog! (Had no clue you’re to blame for my Sweary Links addiction!) Even then finding SL was by sheer accident, as I was Google searching for ducks at 4AM (heaven only knows why) and wasn’t paying attention until after I saw the results! Been a follower ever since.
Where on Earth did you get the image for this post? It reminds me (sort of in reverse) of the story of the knight who comes home from the Crusades after ten years, boasting to his wife about all the battles he’s been in and paynim he has slain, until she brings out her array of young children, saying “And I too, my lord, have not been idle.” There’s a bowdlerized version in which the children are replaced by dolls.
Cynthia: Thank you! And thanks for subscribing to it.
kamikazezealot: That’s like a reverse of the usual autocorrect – how very ducking serendipitous. Thank for following SL, and welcome to Sentence first too.
John: It did the rounds on social media about a year ago, showing up on sites like Imgur and We Know Memes. Pretty soon people had made pillows and tapestries out of it. I’m afraid I don’t know who’s originally responsible for the image.
During a recent discussion on times when it is or isn’t acceptable to swear, my 11-year-old goddaughter told me that her teacher had said ‘shit’ in class, and that she was shocked by this. I said that I found it shocking too, and inquired as to the context – I was imagining that he perhaps stubbed his toe or something. But no, it turns out that the kids are learning about World War 1 in the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day (a very big deal down here). The teacher was describing the conditions faced by the troops when he used the phrase ‘and all this shit.’ Ah well, in that case, I told her, I completely approve. I said that this is one of the reasons why we need swear words. How could one describe a war zone without using swear words, or some way to shock their audience?
Yes, the use of profanity in that context could be seen as quite appropriate, even among children, and the fact that it shocked them underscores its power. Far better that they encounter such terms used with moral intent than without just cause (or worse, with hatred).
Superlinguo has just posted ‘Astrological signs for linguists’. Mine is: ‘Virgo: You are pure and chaste, which means you are deeply fascinated by the smutty and impure. We suggest you read Strong Language.’
Thanks, David – I wondered if anyone would report on this, especially a Virgo. It’s a fun set.
[…] And here’s a progress report from March 2015: Strong Language 2: Swear harder. […]
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