Some such words may be appropriate only within

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Unformatted text preview: s in English What the f***, who the f***, when the f***, where the f***, but, crucially NOT *Which the f*** INDV101 – Fall 2007 Taboo and obscene language • All languages include words which cannot be politely uttered within a particular speech community. • Some such words may be appropriate only within informal registers, or among certain people, or at certain times or places. • Others may be considered inappropriate to utter at any time. • These we’ll refer to as ‘word taboos’; taboo we’ taboos’ words are sometimes considered ‘obscene’ obscene’ INDV101 – Fall 2007 • • • Word taboos • In many societies, people’s names people’ become taboo upon that person’s person’ death – – In Ute, to say a dead person’s person’ name will wake him/her up’ up’ In Navajo, to say a dead person’s person’ name is to invite trouble from that person Word taboos • Want to hear a taboo word of English? • Ursa! Ursa! • How ‘bout one in Latin • Wolf! • (latin has ‘lupus’) lupus’ • “We are dealing with a deepdeepseated belief, fortified by continuous tradition for thousands of years: the belief that there is an essential relation between words and things, - between the name and the object that is called by that name.” (Kittredge 1902) name.” INDV101 – Fall 2007 INDV101 – Fall 2007 4 Ursa, Lupus • The proto-Indo European roots for ‘bear’ and protobear’ ‘wolf’ were likely *rtko (which became ‘*ursa’ wolf’ ursa’ in Latin, but ‘bär’ in Germanic) and *wlko Germanic) (which became ‘lupus’ in Latin, ‘wolf’ in lupus’ wolf’ Germanic) • These words were subject to ‘hunter taboo’; taboo’ and r...
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