the oldest surviving slang

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Jul 3 01:27:47 UTC 2002

What does 'sexual intercourse' mean? I always took it to be the kinda
formal equivalent of 'fuck.'


>         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
>         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

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736

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