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Bleep You! - a History of Bad Words: The Different Changes in Its Meanings & Uses and How Its Development Reflects The Evolution of Society

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BLEEP You!

A History of Bad Words: e Different Changes in Its Meanings & Uses

and How Its Development Reflects the Evolution of Society

by

Emmanuel Joseph Mariano

II AB European Studies ; 102445

submitted to

Mr. Jose Ma. Edito Tirol

Faculty, Department of History

Ateneo de Manila University

in full compliance of the requirements

of the course History 18.2

Ateneo de Manila University

Quezon City, Philippines

Introduction

Imagine Bruce Willis' John McClane immortalized with the quote "Yipee kay yay, mother-fornicator!"

or the possessed Regan in e Exorcist, screaming "Your mother siphons male organs in hell!" or Cee Lo Green

musing "Misfortune to You!"; an Eminem that rhymes "spit" with "banana split." Imagine exclaiming "holy

excrement!" or "that's dandily awesome!" when surprised or excited. In whatever language, it is impossible to

imagine verbal communication without bad words.

ree words heavily utilized by people and by mass media have epitomized the rationale of "what makes

a bad word?" namely, the A word, the S word and the F word. e uses and variations of the ass, shit and fuck have

plagued our speech and written work; our films, music, art and literature, enforcing the idea that the use of bad

words is at some point an essential and enriches the experience of communicating through language. Nowadays,

cursing (the use of these bad words in speech and in writing) serves various purposes when inserted in a sentence

or used on its own: it insults, provokes, empowers & amplifies, stimulates, exaggerates, annoys and arouses.

Whereas cursing was originally an intent to wish misfortune on another, the adaptive and malleable nature of

language allows for such changes in meaning to happen.

What makes the use of bad words endearing? e mechanisms of change in society has ingrained bad

words and its use into our casual language, brashly ignoring conventions on what is proper or otherwise. It is a

vital part in fulfilling our natural want as human beings to successfully deliver and convey a precise and exact

embodiment of our thoughts, feelings and ideas. Although the use of bad words is rarely evoked in a formal

setting, the idea of unadulterated self-expression has propagated its use from private conversations to exposed,

and more public endeavors.

But aside from being a means to communicate, express and those mentioned above, can it serve another

purpose? .

Presented with theories on the development of language and communication, linguistics, sociology and

anthropological linguistics, this research aims to academically discuss and competently present the histories of

bad words such as ass, shit and fuck; an attempt to reevaluate these so-called words: to see their value in helping

one understand how its development and integration into our language reflects the evolution of society.

Communication & Language

We express ourselves in numerous ways. Art shows how one views the world: an attempt to outwardly

portray how an artist perceives a subject hoping to share that understanding with others, fashion can convey

notions of individualism and is the expression of one's idea of beauty, and architecture can serve as the physical

embodiment of an entity's wealth and power: intimidation. We oen feel the need to physically manifest what we

our feeling beneath our exterior; to communicate. As human beings capable of thought, emotion and reason,

communication serves as the channel that conveys and transfers our ideas, feelings and thoughts to other people.

Language is a systematized form of communication used by a community or a country; it can either be

spoken or written.

No single theory can be attributed to the creation of language. A common theme shared by most theories

is that it was born of the need for human beings to express themselves. From primitive noises to actual words to

illustration then writing, thousands of years of accumulated human development and knowledge have created a

complex and structured communication form.

e words ass, shit and fuck are derived from English, largely dubbed as the universal language. Like any

developed language, it is fundamentally composed of symbols called letters. When combined, these letters form

words which have their own individual meanings. e meanings that we have established and associated with

words are derived from concepts, objects, elements and humans experience which society commonly holds as

true. As new constructs are created and discovered (such as technology, computer etc.) new meanings and words

incorporate themselves in our language which either add to or remove what was preciously established. Coupled

with

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