LING 002. First-Year Seminar: The Linguistic Innovation of Taboo Terms and Slang

Taboo terms vary in topic across language communities: religion, sex, disease and death, and bodily effluents are common, but other topics can appear, often depending on nonlinguistic factors (community size, demographics, and cultural beliefs). Taboo terms also vary in how they are used: exclamations, name-calling, and maledictions are common, but other uses can appear, such as modifiers and predicates. Over time less common uses tend to semantically bleach, so that historical taboo terms can be used without hint of vulgarity or rudeness. These less common uses can fall together with slang in exhibiting linguistic behavior unique within that language, at the word level and the phrase and sentence level, behavior that is telling with respect to linguistic theory. Each student will choose a language other than English to investigate.
Social sciences.
Writing course.
1 credit.
Eligible for INTP
Fall 2017. Napoli.
Fall 2018. Napoli.
Catalog chapter: Linguistics  
Department website:

Check the Spring 2018 Schedule of Courses

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