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Roy Blount Jr: The Sounds, Roots, and History of Words

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chawil Avatar
Posted: 07.27.10, 09:59 AM
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).
kchartstein Avatar
Posted: 04.29.09, 12:31 PM
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.
MarceloAbans Avatar
Posted: 04.19.09, 12:07 PM
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.
josealonsoleon Avatar
Posted: 04.16.09, 02:06 AM
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!

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