, Research Paper
Fuck! Is that offensive to you? Why is the word ?*censored*? such a taboo word in the English language as opposed to its definition of ?copulation?? It would seem to make sense that if a word is offensive it?s meaning would be twice that. Strangely, sex is not an offensive word at all, and is used frequently in formal conversations and writings. Upon questioning, not one person could give a concrete answer on why the word offended them, they would simply say ?oh, just because, and don?t use that kind of language in front of you mother?. ?Just because?, is not a valid answer and doesn?t explain my question. So I started my quest to learn the meaning behind the meaning, and angering many librarians in the process.
The printed history of the word ?*censored*? was first documented in a poem by Dunbar in 1503, and later documented in 1598 in a slang dictionary as a definition of the word ?Fottere?. By the 18th century, if printed at all, the word would be ?F?k?. Than the great writer James Joyce published the word ?Fuck? in his book ?Ulysses? in 1922, nevertheless the word has remained a major taboo in formal writing.
I then went straight to ?The Cassell Dictionary of Slang?, which traced the word ?*censored*? all the way back to the late 17th century; ?An act of copulation? or sex. This term?s meaning remained just ?sex? until the late 18th century when it?s term seemed to erratically change to mean ?anything at all that is negative?. As the first part of the 20th century rolls around, the word evolves quite a bit. First, it?s meaning comes to include ?a person, (usually a woman)? for example ?She/he was a good *censored*?. In 1920 it was inclusive to ?a despicable person?, and in 1930 ?used in comparisons?. With discovery of films there was a new type of movie called the ?*censored* movie?. Yet, the word was not widely used until after World War 2, in which it is seen in such acronyms as FUBIS (Fuck you buddy I?m shipping out) or FUBAR (Fucked up beyond all recognition). The true glory of the word ?*censored*? was not brought to it?s potential till the 1970?s when it?s meaning came to include ?nothing?, ?bad luck?, ?the spirit, ex- kicking the *censored* out of?, and ?indicating a difference of importance.? This gives a little insight into why ?*censored*? is so offensive, but nothing concrete.
In researching the etymology of the word, I discovered that it?s origin is very shady. The closest word to the English ?*censored*? is the German word ?frikken? or the Norweigen word ?fukken? all which mean to copulate. In Swedish ?focka? means to strike or push, ?fock? describes a penis, and ?given the plethora of euphemisms equating intercourse or penetration with striking or hitting, there may be substantiations in the suggestion of a root word in Latin ?pugnare?- to strike.? But, as it is later stated in the book, there is no sustaining evidence towards the etymology of the taboo word ?*censored*?.
So why is the word *censored* so offensive? Perhaps, because it describes sex in a very un-holy manner or because it was made popular by the military and is considered a ?sailor word?. My own hunches tell me it?s just like human nature to find something that offends them and go with it. Besides, could you imagine slipping and not having a curse word to exclaim the extreme pain?