My recent post on how a particularly obscene paragraph ended up on a local sports page inspired me to go back to a post I wrote in 2015, “When Shit Hits the Newspapers.” In it, I mentioned the enticing prospect that bullshit might have appeared in an American newspaper a few decades before that word started showing up in the writings of such luminaries as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
Slang lexicographer Jonathan Lighter noted on the American Dialect Society mailing list back in 2008 that there is a mention of a stage-robber in Las Vegas, New Mexico, named John “Bull Shit Jack” Pierce in Doc Holliday: the Life and Legend by Gary L. Roberts. Roberts seems to cite an 1881 issue of the Las Vegas Daily Optic on this point. Now that the Optic from that year has been scanned and digitized, it’s possible to check. Sadly, there is no “Bull Shit Jack” to be found, but the expurgated versions that did appear in newspapers of the era leave little doubt as to what his nickname actually was.
Linguist John McWhorter, the new host of the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley, chats with Benjamin K. Bergen about why so many swear words are monosyllabic. (We’ve already preordered Bergen’s new book, What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves.)
Celebrating U.S. Thanksgiving next week? Perhaps your guests would enjoy a slice of tofucken, that mischievously named concoction of tofu stuffed with tempeh and seitan. (Hat tip: Barry Popik.)
Eleven charts that will speak to anyone who really fucking loves swearing. (Hat tip: Mike Pope.)
Writing a book like Bullshit: A Lexicon—a look at words, common and obscure, for bullshit and bullshitters—was fun as fuck, as you might imagine. But one thing that’s not so much fun is coming across words I could have included after the fact. I’m pissed that I didn’t find bullshine in time. I would have loved to include gorilla dust.
Then there’s bullfuck.
We’re pleased as fuck to bring you another guest post by trademark lawyer Anne Gilson LaLonde, the author of Gilson on Trademarks (a legal treatise on U.S. trademark law) and of the extremely popular Strong Language post “Trademarks the Government Doesn’t Want You to See.” We’re doubly pleased to announce that Anne will be joining our merry band as a regular contributor.