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?