Roy Blount, Jr. talks about Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips.
After 40 years of making a living using words in every medium, print or electronic, NPR panelist Blount still can't get over his ABCs. In this work he celebrates the sonic and kinetic energies of letters and their combinations- Book Passage
Roy Blount Jr.
Roy Blount Jr. wears many hats: he is a humorist, sportswriter, poet, performer, lecturer, dramatist, and the author of twelve books. Raised in Decatur, Georgia, Blount received a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt and a master's degree from Harvard. After a brief stint in the Army he worked as a reporter, columnist, and part-time English instructor in Atlanta before becoming a writer and editor for Sports Illustrated in 1968. In 1975 he left Sports Illustrated and, after publishing three articles in The Atlantic Monthly in 1981, became a contributing editor to the magazine the following year. In his writing for The Atlantic, Blount has reported on everything from the civil-rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan, from Saturday Night Live to Elvis's funeral. Blount has also worked on the stage; his one-man show at the American Palace Theatre -- later expanded into Roy Blount's Happy Hour and a Half -- was described by The New Yorker as "the most humorous and engaging fifty minutes in town."
Blount's writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Playboy, Vanity Fair, GQ, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic. His work has also been anthologized in such collections as The Best of Modern Humor, The Elvis Reader, The Ultimate Baseball Book, and The Sophisticated Cat. He is the author of seventeen books, including Crackers (1982), About Three Bricks Shy of a Load (1986), Soupsongs & Webster's Ark (1988), Camels Are Easy, Comedy's Hard (1991), First Hubby (1991), Roy Blount's Book of Southern Humor (1994), which contains overs 150 short stories, sketches, essays, poems, memoirs, and lyrics, Be Sweet: A Memoir (1998), Robert E. Lee (2003), and several books cowritten with Valerie Shaff. Blount currently lives in western Massachusetts and New York City. For a more comprehensive biography see Blount's official Web site.
Author and journalist Roy Blount Jr. tells an anecdote about the most commonly misspelled word in the English language, "the." Blount cites Urban Dictionary, which defines "the" as the most common misspelling of "teh."
Branch of linguistics concerned with examining changes in phonology, grammar, and semantics during a language's evolution, reconstructing earlier stages, and uncovering evidence of the influence of other languages. Its roots are in Classical and medieval writings on etymology and in the comparative study of Greek and Latin during the Renaissance. Only in the 19th century did more scientific language-analysis methods lead to the development of historical linguistics as a scholarly discipline. The Neogrammarians, a group of German linguists who formulated sound correspondences in the Indo-European languages, were especially influential. In the 20th century the methods of historical linguistics were extended to other language groups.
To state the obvious language is NOT a finished work. Language will necessarily change to reflect new modes of thought and names for new discoveries and inventions. Shakespeare's English may be very stately but it's also tedious; I'd hate to try to read a news article written in it and I doubt that Mr Blount would like to write it. But whatever the result, good or ill, change is inevitable.
For another interesting take on language see C.M. Matthews "Words Words Words". Each short chapter deals with a distinct part of language and its origins and meanings. For example Chapter II Original Words begins with a section entitled 'Echoes from Nature' about onomatopoeia or echoic words. He also points out sound complexes such as the nasal relationship between 'snoot', 'snoop', 'snore' and 'snooze' (my only criticism is that he omits 'snot' but I suppose he was trying to be well bred).
I agree with you strongly. I lived with a host family in Spain and I have friends from Argentina, Chile, Belarus, Russia, and several other countries. I am always very interested in hearing the swear words from their native countries. In almost every case I have found that the production of the word fits with its meaning (similar to the google example with the movement of the adam's apple given in this video). If this is something that interests you I would suggest A lecture by Steven Pinker titled "The Stuff of Thought" (its on FORA). He answers a question about what makes swear words vulgar and I found it to be quite informative and actually pretty entertaining as well.
Not sure if it's necessarily American puritanism he's making the point of how it sounds. Coming from Costa Rican parents I know you are trying to use "Joder" as an example but it's a bad one. It can have the same context as fuck as in "Deja de joder" (stop fucking around) but it doesn't mean it sounds the same. Joder often means to bother, mess around or bust someone's chops more often than not. I've never heard it used in a sexual context. It's not like fuck in terms of it's pure harshness in sounds. There are other words like "Chicar" (Fuck like sex), "Singar" (Same as chicar), "Pinga" (dick), "Mierda" (shit), "Picha" (Costa Rican Slag for Vagina) all which are considered "curse" words all which sounds really harsh to the ear. Some words have perfectly innocent meanings such as "Papaya" which is a fruit but I have Colombian friends who often use it in terms of seeing "camel toe", because how it's said in Spanish it can sounds very harsh.
If it word sounds harsh to the ears it can be construed as negative. I have a German friend who sometimes talks to his mom and it always sounds harsh as if he's cursing her our but German can be a really harsh language if you don't know, at least to me.. George Carlin actually does a VERY funny bit about words like fuck and the harshness of it's sound, not about the f-word which is often found but it's in a stand up set he does.
American puritanism is so childlike retarded. You have so much passion about silly god stuff and are so religiously passionate about supernatural phenomena but when it comes to being passionate about real life things you are still in the dark ages. In Spain as an example "joder" which is the translation of your fuck word is commonly used in the day to day language of anyone including kids. Kids! Why even the King himself has been heard saying joder on TV!