June's Swear of the Month
In the study of morphology, linguists often examine “minimal pairs” – that is, morphemes which are identical in all but one respect. This allows researchers to gauge the purpose and effect of isolated phonemes in a controlled environment. The field of swearology, too, has its minimal pairs, and by examining them, we will today explore how syllable count influences the potency and purpose of a naughty word.
May's Swear of the Month
English is lousy with acronyms, and the only thing we like more than acronyms … is lexicalizing our acronyms. From LASER, to DARPA, to the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act (Seriously, look it up), us English speakers will shove our forearms straight up our own assholes in the quest to turn a bunch of smaller words into one big word.
April's Swear of the Month
Happy Easter. Here’s a list of all the ways I know to say “Jesus Christ” without saying “Jesus” or “Christ”:
March's Swear of the Month
Several years ago, a New York publishing house was foolish enough to offer me a book contract. I got a lot out of that deal – money, a bunch of free copies of the book, and a smug sense of superiority to name just a few. But possibly the most valuable thing I gained was an unexpected lesson in swearing. Until that time, I’d only had the readers of my website to answer to, and so I’d mostly used whatever words I felt like using. The editors at the publishing house, however, pointed out some things I hadn’t consciously realized.
February's Swear of the Month
Minced oaths get a bad rap. To self-respecting swearologists, they’re often looked down upon as low-fat, sugar-free swear substitutes. To many of the prudes they’re supposed to placate, even minced oaths are too rude. But to me, an intellectual, minced swears are friggin’ cool as heck, and ruddy interesting to boot.
January's Swear of the Month
If you’ve been online any time in the past year (or if you have your butler print out Reddit every morning so you can read it over coffee) you have probably seen someone call someone else a “cuck.” Cuck has joined (though unfortunately not replaced) words like “fag” and “tard,” in the ever-classier lexicon of the alt-right.
December's Swear of the Month
I know what you’re here for, friends. You come expecting a fresh new swear to stuff into your language satchels, like giddy trick-or-treaters at the front door of a crotchety uncle. Ordinarily I would oblige. But the purpose of this swear of the month club has long since expanded beyond the mere coining of neologisms. I have made it my mission not only to arm you with new swears, but with the skill to put your arsenal of swears to good use. And so, with a heavy heart, I must inform you of a crisis that threatens the very heart of sweardom: we have reached peak fuck.
November's Swear of the Month
Many entertainment properties have their own proprietary swears. Battlestar Galactica has “frack”, Firefly has “gorram,” and so on. Most of these seem to have been invented primarily to get around the censors. There’s another reason swears are invented in fictional worlds, though, and the Bladerunner movies exemplify it: the slurs that exist in a world tell us a lot about the world. Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil the new Bladerunner for you. All I want to talk about is the word “skinjob.”
October's Swear of the Month
Recently it has become fashionable to call people, things, and events “garbage.” Within the last few years, we have taken to calling shitty people “garbage people”, and bad television “garbage television.” Garbage isn’t a new pejorative – one might say the recent trend represents a return to vogue rather than a brand new development – and its popularity is understandable. It’s simple, gracefully evades the censors, and has a full, luxurious mouthfeel. I believe, however, that there is another motive for the resurgence of garbage as an insult; a motive that may yield further swears for our collective use.
September's Swear of the Month
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about “swearing” as a general category. But why is “swearing” a label we use to refer to bad words? In court, one swears to tell the truth. In marriage, one swears to honor and cherish and whatever. When one enters public office, one goes through a “swearing-in” ceremony. And of course we cannot forget about the most sacred type of promise left to us in this age of perfidy: the “pinky-swear.” To swear is to promise in the most sincere and holy of ways, so why is the word also synonymous with “call your dad a shitlord?” Well … because of how sacred those oaths once were, it turns out.
August's Swear of the Month
Just a quick one this month. Here’s three rhyming euphemisms to never say:
July's Swear of the Month
Hello again, fuckers and fuckees, and welcome to this month’s swear. Today we will be discussing a phrase near and dear to my butt:
“To shit in one’s milk.”