Article on the F-Word

Sun Jul 16 02:19:00 UTC 2006

        Christopher Fairman, an Associate Professor of Law at Ohio State
University, has written a 74-page paper on the principal obscene word of
the English language.  Professor Fairman would object strongly to the
circumlocutions of my preceding sentence and subject line; his belief is
that taboo
language should be included in dictionaries, freely spoken and written
in our schools and colleges, printed in our newspapers and magazines,
and broadcast on radio and television.  Taking this to its logical
conclusion, his paper is succinctly entitled "Fuck."  He pointedly
praises the title of Fred Shapiro's article, The Politically Correct
United States Supreme Court and the Motherfucking Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals: Using Legal Databases to Trace the Origins of Words
and Quotations.  He also praises Jesse Sheidlower's definitive source,
The F-Word, apparently feeling that its 272 pages of obscenity is more
than sufficient to overcome its title.  Fairman's paper, which includes
discussions of the leading legal opinions in this area, is available
online at

John Baker

The American Dialect Society -

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