F-Words, F-Bombs and Booze, Part 1

Cary Wiggins alerted us to a recent, scholarly article about, of all things, the F-word. His blog, called Meeting the Sin Laws, covers the intersection of sin, vice, alcohol beverages, and the law.

Wiggins points to The Connotations of the F-Word. This is a post in The Language Log; it is a blog run out of the University of Pennsylvania since 2003. The post is by Chris Potts, a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He wants to get a better understanding of why people tend to remain so fascinated with this term (and other “taboo vocabulary”). He wants to know:

Does it in fact have sexual connotations even when used as an intensive, as in Bono’s “really, really f-ing brilliant”?

Ed. note: F-word modified.

It’s not an idle topic; the FCC needs to grapple with this and so does TTB. Potts applies some fancy academics to this not so fancy topic, with cosine measures, cooccurrences, fleeting expletives, formal linguistic theories, latent semantic analysis, and even rubrics of framing. He does not necessarily conclude that the term has much to do with sex.

This topic has a fair amount of relevance here, because this terminology pops up on alcohol beverage labels more often than you might expect. Above is but one leading example. Tomorrow we plan to show several others. Do you think the F-Word is okay on booze labels?

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3 Responses to “F-Words, F-Bombs and Booze, Part 1”

  1. December 16th, 2008 at 9:30 am

    F-Words, F-Bombs and Booze, Part 2 | bevlog | beer, wine, spirits trends | beverage blog says:

    […] we discussed a scholarly article on the F-Word, in F-Words, F-Bombs and Booze, Part 1. That post was long on discussion and short on examples, so here are several examples of approved […]

  2. December 16th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    admin says:

    Joel Achenbach has a good article on the same topic: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/23/AR2006062301378.html.

    He begins: The most versatile word in our language can do almost anything, other than be printed in a family newspaper. It can be a noun, a verb, a gerund, an adjective or just an expletive. It can be literal or figurative. Although it has an explicit sexual meaning, it’s usually used figuratively these days, as an all-purpose intensifier.

    The F-word remains taboo. But just barely. We may be entering an era in which this fabled vulgarity is on its way to becoming just another word — its transgressive energy steadily sapped by overuse. …

  3. May 15th, 2009 at 8:57 am

    F-Words, F-Bombs and Booze, Part 3 | bevlog | beer, wine, spirits trends | beverage blog says:

    […] back in December of 2008 we ran Part 1 and Part 2. We didn’t really expect to see too many more variations on this theme, or that it […]

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