Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's the big ****ing deal?!

Since I can remember, I've been fascinated with language — history of language; origins of language; how certain words came to be. And I've dedicated some time to answering a lot of these curiosities. But one thing I've never really been able to answer is the mystery of cuss words.

I've always wondered why the word "fuck" is wildly inappropriate compared to the word "puck" or "duck." Who came up with it? Why do humans use it? And, really, why is it so offensive?

Why do we snicker at Ben Stiller's name — Gaylord Focker — in the movie "Meet the Parents"? Do we think it's clever? Do we feel as if we're getting away with something naughty?

And why — whyyyyy — did everyone make such a big deal when VP Joe Biden uttered, "This is a big fucking deal," to Obama during the signing of the health-care bill?

What is the fascination with — the big deal about — these words?

I recently read an article that provided some interesting opinions on the subject. In light of Biden's recent "slip," some New York Times editors wrote about why educated people use bad words.

Journalists, for the most part, are intelligent people, but if you've spent any time in a newsroom, you know how often cuss words fly. It's traditionally viewed as part of newsroom culture, but I tend to think it's what naturally happens when you have a large group of people working together under the weight of stress and strict deadlines.

At any rate, the article provides several opinions from different language "experts," and I found it to be a fascinating read.

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