Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What the F***?

Steven Pinker, the Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, has an article called "What the F***? Why we curse" in the Oct. 8, 2007 issue of The New Republic (pp. 24-29). This article is adapted from his new book, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, which was reviewed on Sep. 23, 2007 by William Saletan in an article called "The Double Thinker" in The New York Times Book Review, and on Sep. 27, 2007 by Colin McGinn in an article called "How You Think" in The New York Review of Books.

1 comment:

Simon Levy said...

You wanna be a rock superstar
And live large...

Nice article, but I wish he'd credited the seminal (uh... huh huh huh) work of James McCawley (writing as Quang Phuc Dong) who wrote the definitive article on the syntax of "fuck", many years ago:


There is also a helpful audio lesson, now with flash animation:


And let us not forget that -fuckin'- is also the only productive infix in English. McCarthy (1982) describes the constraints on its distribution:


Essentiallly, the infix has to come between an unstressed and a stressed syllable; hence:

(1) Abso-fuckin-lutely

(2) Fan-fuckin-tastic

(3) Galan-fuckin-tucci

(3) *Ab-fuckin-solutely

(4) *Saltzman-fuckin (ungrammatical as a variant on the name)

F*, I mean, *thank* you,