the oldest surviving slang

Tue Jul 2 23:38:39 UTC 2002

        I suppose that, as we have already seen, there is real room for a difference of opinion on just what is slang.  In the case of "cunt," I think there's at least a good argument that it's slang for "vagina."  (Historically, of course, "cunt" at one point was standard English, as demonstrated by its c. 1400 use in a medical textbook.)  "Fuck," in the sexual sense, has no formal equivalent, although it's arguably slang when used as an intensified form of "damn."

        If you take the position, implicit in some definitions, that slang requires an element of novelty, then neither word is slang.  I suspect, though, that a firm novelty requirement would narrow the universe of slang down a little too much for comfort.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: Laurence Horn [mailto:laurence.horn at YALE.EDU]
Sent: Monday, July 01, 2002 9:21 PM
Subject: Re: the oldest surviving slang

I'm not sure I see "cunt" as principally
slang, though, its appearance in RHHDAS notwithstanding.  Allen
Walker Read (in his material on the F-word in the new publication)
has some counterarguments, and a tracing of the word's history (back
through the poetry of Wilmot, Earl of Rochester or the songs of
Robbie Burns, inter many alia), would also lead me to question that


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