Mapping the United Swears of America

Swearing varies a lot from place to place, even within the same country, in the same language. But how do we know who swears what, where, in the big picture? We turn to data – damn big data. With great computing power comes great cartography.

Jack Grieve, lecturer in forensic linguistics at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, has created a detailed set of maps of the US showing strong regional patterns of swearing preferences. The maps are based on an 8.9-billion-word corpus of geo-coded tweets collected by Diansheng Guo in 2013–14 and funded by Digging into Data. Here’s fuck:

Jack Grieve swear map of USA GI z-score FUCK Continue reading

Synonyms for Prostitute

While there are terms in English to refer to a promiscuous man, such as Casanova, Don Juan, himbo, lady’s man, Lothario, and rake, there aren’t many. And, curiously, few of them have a pejorative air.

From a feminist perspective, it is arguable that men have largely been interested in controlling female sexuality, and our language reflects this in its paucity of terms for a “loose man.” Although fanciful at times, the verbal duel between two prostitutes in John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor makes this matter clear. Let’s take a look, in media res:

“The truth is,” said the dealer, “Grace here’s a hooker.”

“A what?” asked the poet.

“A hooker,” the woman repeated with a wink. “A quail, don’t ye know.”

“A quail!” the woman named Grace shrieked. “You call me a quail, you, you gaullefretierer

“Whore!” shouted the first.

“Bas-cul!” retorted the other.

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