Tag Archives: taboo language

gadzooks, zounds

Gadzooks! Zounds!

Be careful with those words. They’re ancient holy relics. They’re soaked with a divine spirit. They’re broken bits of oaths, pieces of sacred words of eternal commitment, now used as playthings. I’ll show you… but not quite yet.

We don’t utter oaths as exclamations and imprecations and expressions of emotional intensity much anymore. Most of us are more likely to call on sex and other bodily functions to express dismay at the arc of a crystal glass to a tile floor or a steel hammer to the wrong kind of nail. In general, we feel one of two ways about names for the divine: a few of us consider them so inviolable and sacred that we would never use them to express shock, anger, or other emotions of the edge; the remainder of us seldom consider them of enough account to be satisfactory for the purpose. But there were times when it was otherwise. Continue reading

Swearing around the world

About a month ago, I got an email out of the blue from an editor at BBC Culture asking me if I was interested in doing an article for them on why different languages focus on different things in their swearwords (or whatever you want to call them). Of course I was interested. The article went live today. If you don’t like reading crude language, taboo language, coarse language, vulgarities, etc., don’t read this article. But if you’re curious about why people shout different things when upset…

Mind your language! Swearing around the world