Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 14:17:17 -0500

From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM

Subject: Re: offensiveness of "fuck" (was: a bunch of other stuff)

Tom Head wrote:

Seriously, the "F" word is offensive in almost any context...

I don't agree, and I'm sure my disagreement is the result of different

socialization, possibly due to age or peer group. "What the fuck" and

"fuck me" (as in "I can't believe how I just is just got screwed") are

utilitarian and hardly show up on my sensitivity meter. Jesse's book

has several uses of fuck that are fairly generic, to me, at least.

Grant Barrett


The most instructive example of this in recent memory is found in

successive editions of Pamela Munro's _U.C.L.A. Slang_ volumes.

The first, in 1989, categorized lexemes by offensiveness, with, for

instance, fuck, fuck me, fuck you!, fuckface,_ as well as _lick me!,

fuzz bumper 'female homosexual', slag 'ugly girl', and other all

placed in angle brackets indicating that they (or their referents)

are considered offensive.

By _U.C.L.A. SLANG 2,_ in 1993, the students (all editorial decisions

of this sort were made by her students, not by Munro) concluded that

"words of the first type [sc. sexual and scatological terms] are now

so commonly used on campus, by such a wide cross-section of students,

that there is no need to mark almost any of them as offensive." The

words in this volume that get the angle brackets tend to be derogatory

terms for other people, e.g. _fish_ 'woman (in sexual contexts)',

_flamer_ 'stereotypically homosexual male', _quad_ 'uncoordinated

person' (fr. _quadriplegic_), etc.

Jesse Sheidlower