Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

The Beautiful History of Ugly Words

6:00 pm - 6:00 pm
WCHP Lecture Hall
Portland Campus
Melissa Mohr
Free and open to the public
melissa mohr
Melissa Mohr


Everybody swears, or worries about not swearing, from the two year old who has just discovered the power of the potty mouth to the grandmother who wonders why every other word she hears begins with f and rhymes with cluck. Swearing is a fascinating linguistic phenomenon. How did certain words come to acquire the power to shock and offend us? Why are they the ones we turn to when we hit our thumb with a hammer, offer advice to other drivers, or indeed want to or express any kind of strong emotion, whether negative or positive? And swearing is also interesting for what it can tell us about culture. People swear about what they care about, so a history of swearing is also a history of what has mattered most to people through the centuries—the divine, the terrifying, and the taboo.


WCHP Lecture Hall
United States

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