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4:02 PM
I think I probably read it in a Pinker book or something.
 
I think you are taking a subset of swears into account, anyway. Jesus, shit, damn, etc. are not terribly like cunt, cock, fuck, etc. My hunch is that people tend to say them as aggressively as they can so you get Damn and CoCK.
 
@Kosmonaut From here: "This generalization can in fact be backed up by an investigation into why the four-letter words as monosyllables beginning with a typical set of letters have remained active for, in some cases, over a thousand years.
@Kosmonaut: Geoffrey Hughes’ suggestion runs along these lines: “Many of the most used [swearing] terms in English now start with the letters ‘b’ and ‘f’, for reasons which are not easily explained. Could it be that voiced bilabial plosives and fricatives are the most satisfactory phonetic expression of emotional release?”
 
@Billare If this were the case, you would see a pattern of swearing across languages.
 
@Billare In Russian, the four most offensive insults begin with /b/, /p/, /x/, and /j/.
 
(I guess that merda doesn't come into account.)
 
4:08 PM
@MrHen Precisely. And I don't see one.
 
In Dutch, the worst words mostly begin with kanker-.
 
@RegDwight I suppose technically you would have to translate any emotive association that English has with plosives into whatever the equivalent sound is for the comparative language.
But that seems like a lot of work compared to saying, "Nah, you're wrong."
 
@MrHen: But we'd need a conclusive linguistic study into the emotional associations of all sounds in both languages; however I believe that most studies are limited to rather tentative conclusions.
 
@MrHen Well, Billare's quote literally says "the most satisfactory phonetic expression". If you are going to argue that it differs from language to language, I am going to argue that it differs from speaker to speaker.
 
True.
But it is more likely for a pattern to appear among speakers of the same language.
 
4:11 PM
I don't disagree with what you're saying @RegDwight...you are more knowledgeable in these things than I.
 
@Billare I am not. I'm phantasizing.
 
Aren't we always...
 
@RegDwight Fair enough. I suspect a cultural association is present, yada, yada.
 
@RegDwight But it doesn't sound to me absurd on its face...there are different parts of the brain that developed the construct we know as speech; part of speech is completely learned, but part of it stems from like animal like hoots and pants
 
I guess the point is that this isn't a remotely simple question.
 
4:13 PM
Agreed.
 
@Billare "Hoot" as in "hoot and holler"?
 
I mean, I can totally see how when you drop a hammer on your toe, you first try to keep back the pain by keeping back the air, but then can't stand it anymore and release it. Resulting in a stop sound.
 
No, pant hoots that chimpanzees make when there is a threatening situation.
Google "pant hoot"
 
("Switches on the remote, to see if the question turnes in an easier question.")
 
@Billare Ah, I see.
 
4:14 PM
There are different centers of our brain that get activated when we want to make speech.
 
@Billare Nah, I get it. I first saw "pants" as in, "I put on my pants" and apparently have never seen "hoot" spelled out before now.
 
Then again, we might be making those plosive sounds because this keeping-back and releasing is a nice metaphor that we have learnt in our youth by imitation, compounded by folk etymology... hard to be positive!
 
When we swear, much deeper centers of our brain light up, I think its the limbic system and amygdala.
They might be keyed to prefer making more "primitive" sounds than our total vocal apparatus is capable.
 
@Billare Yes, but motherfucker is not a primitive sound.
 
@Cerberus It's also just really fun to say COCK really loudly.
 
4:16 PM
Neither is vuile kankerhoer.
@MrHen: It can be!
 
The most primitive sound you could make after dropping a hammer on your toe would be "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa".
 
Yes, probably.
 
And yet, a is not a particularly terrible insult in any language I am remotely familiar with.
 
But surely something differentiates profanities...I can't imagine "sibilant" becoming a profanity in English.
 
@RegDwight If @Billare is correct than whatever primitive wrapper we have that prefers plosives would hit before the language processing. Prepending mother is a linguistic trait, not a sound-preference trait.
(This is me bullshitting, by the way.)
 
4:17 PM
I wonder whether a cat would make a different sound if it were raised in the company of fake cats that all said "woosh" when they wanted attention...
 
@Cerberus Yes, they would. Animal sounds can be learned.
 
@MrHen: OK that is pretty cool!
 
@Billare Why not? I can.
 
@MrHen but not all of them are learned. without experimentation i don't think we can say for sure whether meowing is innate or learned
 
@Cerberus The most obvious examples are dogs. Dogs are pretty good at perceiving what other dogs are doing to (successfully) get attention.
 
4:19 PM
I think the formation of swear words is based on many complex factors, just as the Japanese earthquake.
 
@JSBangs Meowing is a description of the sounds cats make. Whatever a cat does is meowing. What we are talking about would need better descriptors.
 
@MrHen: What is the weirdest sound a dog has ever been taught to make?
 
gtg
Cya
 
Never mind, bad question.
 
CU.
 
4:20 PM
Bye Bill!
 
@Cerberus Look up the sounds French Bulldogs make.
 
They say merde?
 
Not sure if those were "taught" per se, but holy wow are they odd.
 
@Cerberus Look up the sounds Rush Limbaugh makes.
 
Hehe.
 
4:20 PM
Nah, they sound like the creature from Eraserhead.
 
Right, even the most primitive of dogs bark as they were taught, just because they crave attention.
 
@RegDwight People often seem to confuse the sounds Rush Limbaugh makes with language, but I'm not convinced.
 
YouTube has a bunch of examples. I don't know the keywords to use, however.
@Cerberus Dogs are more complicated than that, but yeah.
 
@Mrhen: I was just extending the image a bit to include television presenters.
You know what tastes surprisingly good, when you have nothing to eat at all?
Crackers with mustard, salt, and olive oil.
 
@Billare Anyhow, profanities are more of a cultural thing anyway. Fuck has literally nothing in common with retard or the n-word. In fact, try to establish sibilant as a euphemism for either, and watch it become obscene in no time.
 
4:30 PM
Exactly, the euphemistic cycle affects anything, retard no doubt being a euphemism itself.
 
@Cerberus I thought you were going to say "television presenters" for a moment there.
 
@Rhodri: Hah! But for all the fat, I might have...
 
@RegDwight Speaking of which, I still haven't been happy with any of the answers to this question:
7
Q: What is the historic process for converting vulgar words into simply rude words?

MrHenI have noticed a pattern involving vulgarities where the previous generation's evil words become accepted as merely off-color or rude in the following generation. Is this merely each generation's small rebellion against their parents? Does society get bored with certain blacklisted words and move...

 
@Cerberus Admittedly, the euphemistic cycle is extremely short for certain words but not for others. Which may be a crucial part of Billare's (well, Geoffrey Hughes') argument.
But that, again, is nothing special in and of itself. Some words stick around longer than others.
 
@Reg: True. It is probably social issues that accelerate the cycle of certain words.
Then there is a separate kind of cycle in street culture, where anything old usually loses cachet after a while, just because people get used to it, and want new words with fresh stimuli.
 
4:38 PM
@MrHen Haha, that's kind of a jinx. Your question basically says the same thing as my comment.
Well, I wouldn't know how to answer it. I mean, I'm not even sure if the premise is true. Much of it could be recency illusion. (As you admit yourself.)
 
I think it is true.
What limited observations we have seem to point in that direction, and it would logical if you observe how you yourself deal with vulgar words.
Introspection confirms it.
That said, it isn't an iron law, of course.
 
Well, it certainly appears that every generation has its own word for cool, anywhere you look, not just in English. But I'm not so sure about profanities.
(And in fact, I'm not so sure about cool, either. I remember reading some debunking a while back.)
 
When the Dutch word for cunt became so common that it was hardly profane anyone, I started using the diminutive, which was still outrageous at the time. But I couldn't keep it up because it was just too awful, so I stopped using it, mostly because I occasionally said it where the regular word would be appropriate but the diminutive word not at all.
The word cool has held its ground for a remarkably long time, btw.
 
@Cerberus Yeah, I'm not talking about the word cool as such. I am talking about all the synonyms that seem to come and go with every generation.
@Cerberus Haha, a diminutive profanity, now how sweet is that!
 
I suspect that the cycle of those synonyms is subject to a similar process of the old words' getting bland and stale.
@Reg: Kutje is a small kut.
 
4:46 PM
Süüüüüüß!
 
It is actually the cuteness that makes the word utterly disgusting.
Like "oh I will rapesy you" or something.
I find most cutesy euphemisms more revolting than their crude, honest originals.
We also have the word "little star" (sterretje) for anus, or so I was told. The most disgusting word my brain had ever had the misfortune to crash into.
 
There's chocolate starfish in English.
 
Ugh.
 
Geez, we need a topic change. Like, pronto, or something.
 
I do hope that is only a jocular term.
Yes, please!
My fault, btw.
 
4:51 PM
Actually, @Martha started it.
 
Really?
Which one?
 
As if.
I'm not quoting that one.
But I can give a hint.
Mar 24 at 18:23, by RegDwight
Apropos performance art, I gotta go.
Oh, and apropos I gotta go, I gotta go in a few minutes.
 
Ah, I see.
But that was days ago...
 
My point exactly. Whatever Martha starts lasts for more than a day.
 
I posted my first comment on the Physics.se site, and already it seems I was wrong.
I suggested that aluminium foil cools down so quickly when you take it out of the oven that it won't burn your hands.
 
4:57 PM
@Cerberus Well, try it out, I'll wait!
 
Proved that your are not touching the foil at a spot where it touches anything solid or liquid.
 
Or is it purely TheoreticalPhysics.SE?
 
All right, what are y'all blaming on me now?
 
@Reg: Haha well, have you never tried? When I put some quiche loosely wrapped in aluminium foil into the oven, I can easily pull out by lifting it by its foil.
 
@Martha Not blaming. We're excited how you're our very own meme-machine. Case in point: Thwack. Case in point: Eeeeek.
 
4:58 PM
@Martha: The discussion of orifices.
Oh, that.
 
@Martha The last several hours of general filth. Nothing serious :-)
 
*days
 
You can't blame your latest orifice-fest on me. Exactly who was it who posted a link to that movie?
 
Mar 11 at 17:08, by RD01
Heavy on the fooling around.
@Martha I don't know anything about Hungarian!
 
Whatever happened to R2D2? Haven't seen him around of late.
 
5:00 PM
@RegDwight Ignorance is no excuse.
 
@Martha So it was you who started it, in point of fact!
 
@RegDwight Was not.
 
@Martha Don't make me quote it. Because I will.
I mean, you can't just say, "okay, here's how you make an atomic bomb, but please don't" and then expect anything good to come out of it.
 
You already quoted it. Starting with where you posted the link, and then promptly left.
 
Surprise...
 
5:02 PM
I mean, I ask you: are those the actions of an innocent man?
 
@Martha Well, that is a link to an article on Wikipedia. Are you arguing that Jimmy Wales started it?
And besides, whoever invented that Hungarian language? Them Hungarians started it. Period.
 
No, because you posted the link.
 
So no links to movies now, huh?
 
If you hadn't have posted the link, none of the ensuing discussion would have happened. Q.E.D.
 
@Martha If you hadn't started the ensuing discussion, it wouldn't have happened, either.
 
5:05 PM
But, see, since you posted the link, I had to remark on it. I didn't start anything.
Hi sis!
 
@Martha No you did not have to remark. You didn't even have to read it.
 
Dammit, gotta go.
 
Feb 10 at 16:01, by RegDwight
Even @RegDwight doesn't read all of @RegDwight's crap!
And what a coincidence, I gotta go, too.
TTYL.
 
Crap, crap... I like to call them little brown friends.
Bye both!
 
5:22 PM
Um, is it safe to enter?
 
Martha alleged she had to go, so probably.
I see I got starred for precising a conversion I didn't even take part in. Much.
Such is my lot in life.
 
The fates must like you...
 
Not a lot, but they like me.
 
@Rhodri — Define "precising" if you please.
 
Oh dear...
 
5:26 PM
"Writing a precis of" (only I'm too lazy to put the right accents in.
)
 
(Incidentally, my stood-upness of yesterday turned out to be caused by a lost phone... I am kind enough of spirit to believe that.)
@Rhodri: You saved yourself nicely there! Bravo.
Now do "conversion".
 
"Do you turn to Christ?" :-)
 
@Cerberus — You are a saint for keeping the "lost my cellphone" lie viable for at least another few days.
 
Eh... so we were converted to filth?
 
@Cerberus — Well, according to the Bible, we come from filth and return to it: "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
 
5:28 PM
@Rob: Thank you for that gracious compliment! Then again, when it wasn't me who initiated the date... how crazy does one have to be to request a date then not show up then make up excuses...
 
Hey, I'm typing in between reviewing code at work. My pedantry can only be divided down so far.
 
@Rhodri — Get in line.
 
@Rob: I suppose the dust might work... if only our filth had been dust...
 
Filth is filth. Parts is parts.
 
Body parts?
The body is a filthy prison of the soul.
 
5:31 PM
For some reason this springs irresistibly to mind:
 
Oh dear...
 
I can't imagine why :-)
7
Q: Do people in Miami really talk like they do in the television series "Dexter"?

Miro KropacekHello everyone, as I'm far from being good English speaker, I use to watch series to improve my skills. I'm fan of various genres, from Star Trek to How I Met Your Mother and I can say until now, I felt "aligned" with it, meaning I knew why such and such grammar was used, when it was slang, shor...

 
Too broad. I'd vote to close.
 
Hmm... is that supposed to be filth?
@Rob: I don't know...
The answers seem to have debunked the question's assumptions fairly well and reduced it to an answerable core.
 
Hmm ... he does get specific later on. But still ...
 
5:35 PM
I am withholding my vote for now.
By the way, am I experiencing SS or does the double h in "withholding" look odd?
 
It does look odd, but it's right.
 
Ok.
So said my browser's spelling checker.
 
@Cerberus — What, did the SS come to your house? Again?
Withhold has a double "h" in it.
Whereas threshold does not.
 
@Rob: They sense that I dislike megalomaniac buildings and torture, perhaps?
 
@Cerberus — Doesn't everybody?
 
5:39 PM
You know, I regularly get a fuzzy feeling when I consider how soft and liberal Germany has become.
Then I think, the world gets better and better.
 
@Cerberus — So, you're an optimist? Or at least a meliorist?
 
Haha, an optimist!
 
To balance that, my friend setting up his company's office in Vienna is alarmed to be considered soft and liberal in Austria.
 
Then again, superlatives are relative too: the best of what they are compared with.
Well, Austria totally missed the reformation that Germany went through after WWII. Fascism has never been exterminated there.
Even so, I believe Austrian youth is quite liberal.
But you will still find many fascists among older generations there.
 
I get the impression it's not so much exterminated as compulsory among serious businesspeople
 
5:43 PM
Heh.
Well, what kind of views did your friend find there that shocked him?
 
The local attitude to the Turks, Eastern Europeans and other ne'er-do-wells, mostly.
 
Hmm ok... well I think you'll find that attitude throughout W-Europe?
You will certainly find it in Holland.
 
Mike enjoys making fascist comments on "how to deal with them" to wind me up, but having people make those comments to him with a straight face was a bit unexpected.
 
Well it depends on how they're saying it whether I'd be shocked...
 
There's attitudes and there's attitudes, and this was more... enthusiastic than he had expected.
Bah, I'm down to my last review. I'll have to start making sense soon.
 
5:49 PM
If they say "Polish immigrants are a problem because they come from a different culture and commit more crimes that the average local person", I might question their statistics, but I would not be shocked.
If they say "all foreigners should de deported and put in camps somewhere", then yes I'll be shocked.
 
Looks like @Hellion is our newest member of the 10K club. Welcome, @Hellion. SO is cutting back, so you won't receive the complimentary gift basket like the rest of us got, but I'm sure you'll manage.
 
Go @Hellion
 
I don't think Cerberus wants it bad enough.
 
Meh.
Cerberus congratulates Hellion nevertheless.
I will accept a gift basket if it contains food.
Good food.
I am hungry.
 
Poor little Dutch boy. Awww, so cute!
It's the wooden shoes, I think. Way cute.
 
5:57 PM
WHAT
I AM NOT CUTE
 
Cerberus the Three-Headed Puppy. It doesn't bear thinking about.
2
 
Shall I get me some sushi from the restaurant opposite the street, or go to my parents' house and plunder their fridge...
Thank you, Rhodri; not thinking about that would be doing this world a favour.
 
Wooden shoes. Cute. There it is.
 
Hey my wooden shoes are sturdy models; every cool kid on the block has the latest polyester wooden shoes with brilliants on the side and a nifty spoiler at front.
 
If you think of them as "ecologically sound", they instantly stop being cute.
 
6:21 PM
0
Q: Do serious grammarians endorse the "Can I"/"May I" distinction?

BillareJust now, I wanted to ask a question that was something like, "Can I get a thorough list of all the parts of speech that a sentence can be broken down into?" But then a nagging voice appeared in my head and said, "Of course you can! You certainly have the capability -- but that's not what you wa...

I couldn't find a dup for this. Anyone else got one?
 
He's asking a subtly different question to the usual one, so I don't think it's really a dupe.
 
@Rhodri Any subtly seems to be more of a problem. This is a variation of the classic while asking for some authority. It strikes the same chord as people asking for an official version of English.
As in, the most appropriate way to ask this question would probably be considered a duplicate: Is there still a distinction between "Can I" or "May I"?
At least, in my opinion.
But it doesn't bug me greatly. I am curious how others see it.
If this is distinct enough to not be a dup, great. :)
 
Meh. It's not something I'd bestir myself over, but I'm no authority.
I've not even got the rep to vote on closures yet, so don't listen to me.
 
Man searching for references to this on language log is impossible
 
@Cerberus — So you're saying you wear sensible wooden shoes?
 
6:33 PM
@Rhodri Heh, neither do I. I just like to understand how things work (or should work.)
 
Uh-oh, @Robusto's off again.
 
@Rob: If you consider spoilers and brilliants sensible, then yes.
 
7:07 PM
@Rhodri — Huh?
 
All right, that's enough pedantry and mindless destruction. Time to go home.
Cheers, folks.
 
Adios!
 
F'x
7:24 PM
2
Q: Where does the word "masochism" come from, and how did it work its way into popular usage?

ArthurRexWe all know that The Marquis de Sade popularized the term 'sadist' via "120 days of Sodom" and "Justine" - as well as being exemplified by his own devilish lifestyle. How was masochism was unveiled into the world?

so, ArthurRex has started yet another reasonless bounty
I mean, he has already accepted what seems to be a satisfying answer, and he does not indicate what he wants in addition to that
to me, that seems like someone playing the system rather than using it
what's your feeling about this recent trend of his?
 
@Fx It's his rep; he can do what he likes with it. I think his questions, answers and comments are mostly useless but others don't seem to mind the questions after we edit them to something more appropriate.
I count 800 rep in bounties per his profile.
 
F'x
Well, if there is a general sentiment that his use of the system is detrimental to the community at large, moderators could contact him
 
@Fx Does "detrimental" include poor quality questions and atypical bounties?
 
F'x
I just think it's frustrating
 
@Fx I agree. I think if mods are looking for an excuse for action than it is evidence that action probably needs to be taken.
I don't know this site or its family well enough to know if that is technically "enough."
 
7:42 PM
i see no reason to keep ArthurRex from doing whatever he wants with his own rep
and don't see that useless bounties are of much detriment to the system
 
Yeah to be honest I'm not really experiencing it as a problem; the only mild problem is some useless clutter.
 
The whole "repost the just closed question" stunt was far worse.
 
7:57 PM
@MrHen — He is making fun of us. He mocks us for answering questions to get reputation.
 
@Robusto Mocking is flaggable. I don't care what he thinks about rep and don't personally get irritated by someone poking fun at answering questions.
He is playing some game in his head and, as long as he follows the rules, what is the harm?
There is a Penny Arcade relevant to this but I do not have the requisite Google skills to find it.
 
8:51 PM
@MrHen — I'm not saying I care about what he's doing. I'm reporting my perception of the situation.
 
@Robusto I see. For what it is worth, I think you are completely correct.
 
9:08 PM
Later all.
 
 
1 hour later…
10:12 PM
What I don't like about ArthurRex is how he asks questions. The question is just the title; what he writes in the question body is, most of the times, totally unrelated.
(I know, I am always late in the debates, and other things.)
About what he does with the reputation, it's something he has already done on cooking.SE.
If something should be done, then force him to add something useful in the body of his questions. When he just writes something that is different from what he uses as title, vote to close the question because it's not "a real question."
After all, the description says "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form."
 
10:35 PM
(OK; now I am done with my talking. I will return to my other Mac, where I don't have a window opened on this chat.)
 
10:49 PM
@Martha Why do you not have the Electorate badge? You know, I don't think the descriptions they put on badges in the badge pane are accurate at all.
 
I think it must be because less than a quarter of my votes are on questions. (But this is not something that can be checked via the data explorer, because the exported data is sanitized too much.)
 
@Martha So it's saying you mostly vote up answers, not questions?
 
Yeah, something like that. (Although I do try to vote up questions as much as I can; it's just that there are so many more answers than questions.)
 
@Martha Blurgh. OK, thanks. BRB.
 
35
A: List of all badges with full descriptions

Popular DemandRegular badges A-L Jump to M-Z Altruist bronze; awarded once; same family as Benefactor, Investor, Promoter (all bronze) Award a bounty on another user's question Awarding means manually selecting a bounty winner; letting the system auto-award half the bounty does not count Not awarded on p...

 
10:58 PM
@Martha (Thanks!)
 
 
1 hour later…
11:59 PM
Salutem qui meriti sint.
 
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