On the History of Profanity

Matthew J.X. Malady, writing for Slate:

Curse words, obscenities, and other taboo utterances—much like the individuals who resort to them in fits of rage—tend to not be known for their stability. They change, fluctuate, shape-shift. Sometimes they disappear on us altogether, never to be heard from again. Or almost never.


While there’s nothing new about words becoming more and less taboo with the passage of time, the pace of that process seems to be accelerating—and, even more interestingly, the categories of words that tend to bother people seem to be changing fairly dramatically. In many instances, what’s super-offensive now is quite different from that which was the height of taboo even as recently as 40 or 50 years ago. And that’s because we’ve changed—both in how we share information, and with respect to what most unsettles us.

This is a really fucking interesting article — you should read it. (See what I did there?)

(via Ben Brooks)