Archives for posts with tag: swearing

Beseech your majesty,
Forbear sharp speeches to her: she’s a lady
So tender of rebukes that words are strokes
And strokes death to her.

Cymbeline III, v

This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words
And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
A scullion!
Hamlet II, ii

In his 1967 treatise, The Anatomy of Swearing, Montagu repeatedly makes the case that swearing, like tears and laughter, serve to release emotions and restore equilibrium. He has this to say about the social sanctions against women swearers:

“If women wept less they would swear more…many modern women have grown to be ashamed of tears and quite belligerently proud of swearing… With growing emancipation of woman from her former inferior status she has now altogether abandoned the privilege of swooning and has reduced the potential oceans of tears to mere rivulets. Today instead of swooning or breaking into tears, she will often swear and then do whatever is indicated. It is, in our view, a great advance upon the old style.”

(Emph mine.)
Can I get a “fuck yeah?”
Montagu, A., 1967. The Anatomy of Swearing, University of Pennsylvania Press.

Sometime around 1180 BC, a local official living near the Dakhla oasis (in present-day Egypt) made a bequest in his father’s name. The bequest said that:

Harentbia donates a daily offering of five loaves in favour of his dead father… the official in charge of [the offering’s] execuition will enjoy the protection of the god Amon-Re. The person who fails in this respect shall ‘fall to the sword of Amon-Re’ and in addition ‘a donkey shall copulate with him, [and] he shall copulate with a donkey.'”

(Ljung 2011, p 45)


Bad donkey! No!

According to research, the donkey curse was a common component of legal documents of the era. Apparently a similar curse still exists in Kurdish to date, though presumably not used by lawyers – at least not in an official capacity…

Ljung, P.M., 2010. Swearing: A Cross-Cultural Linguistic Study, Palgrave Macmillan.