Watch your mouth

May 02, 2012|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

Ashley Montagu wrote a thoroughgoing and readable study of our potty-mouth propensities in The Anatomy of Swearing (1967). Jesse Sheidlower published a book on our favorite expletive, The F Word, in 2009 (reviewed here). Now Grant Barrett, a lexicographer, a trained professional, not a smut hound, people, wants to know what bad words you favor, when you use them, and with whom.

The foundation of his research project is "The Long Bleep Questionnaire," which should not occupy a great deal of your time but which should provide him with valuable fodder. I've answered it, steeped in sin as I am, and I urge you to do the same. If you do not reach for the blue yourself when you speak, you, too, should respond, if only to provide a control group.

It will be interesting to discover where and when we are free-spoken, and where and when we are still prudish, what the established conventions of profanity happen to be in our time, and what the geographical and occupational variantions are. But first he needs your help. This is for science, remember. 

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