Friday, February 26, 2010

More Writing About Fucking

Earlier in this blog, I mentioned the fact that I don't like to use the word fuck to describe sexual intercourse. If you want to know my reasons, please click here for the post.

Somewhat connected to my reasons is this quote from the Sept. 27, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books. It's from a review of a book by the noted MIT professor and linguist Steven Pinker:

Of particular interest to the grammarian is the fact that in English all the impolite words for the sexual act are transitive verbs, while all the police forms involve intransitive words: fuck, screw, hump, shag, bang versus have sex, make love, sleep together, go to bed, copulate. As Pinker astutely observes, the transitive sexual verbs, like other verbs in English, bluntly connote the nation of the motion involved in the reported action with an agent and a received of that motion, whereas the intransitive forms are discretely silent about exactly how the engaged objects move in space. The physical forcefulness of the act is thus underlines in the transitive forms but not in the intransitive forms. None of this explains why some verbs for intercourse are offensive while others are not, but it's surely significant that different physical images are conjured up by the different sexual locutions -- with fuck semantically and syntactically like stab and have sex like have lunch.

I forgot to note the author of this review and the book by Pinker that he or she was reviewing. For that, I apologize.

I recommend that you read any book by Pinker. I have found him very enlightening.

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