Collins Living-Learning Center | Linguistics of Curse
L220 | 7926 | Durbin


What is the fascination with “bad words’, and how are they the same, how are
they different across languages, cultures, and subcultures? How offended
would you feel if someone told you to “go get cholera” What is the correct
usage of “@*!#%@!!”? Cursing directs and releases emotion, establishes
values, and defines differences among groups of people or objects. Generally
speaking, effective cursing has a number of requirements. We’ll investigate
these and how they vary across (sub)cultures. By examining a multitude of
curses and slang words in a variety of languages and language situations, we
will examine the power relations between speaker and target, as well as the
power of the utterance, and consider similarities and differences in values
between groups.