baseball cursing, 1898

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Thu Dec 6 21:25:39 UTC 2007

Good observation, Jonathan! It was not the scurrility of Rochester's vocabulary so much as the subject matter of his poems (and his ideas about the subject matter) that shocked his contemporaries. And even there, it was less the sexual content of the poems than Rochester's alleged impiety that was most vigorously denounced in his time.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 12:50:36 -0800
>From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>Even the vocabulary of Lord Rochester's scandalous works is limited and mainly literal - quite anemic by present-day standards, with the same half dozen anatomical words used over and over.  Byrd is most notable for "roger," v.  Have not checked Belcher.
>  The probably the most copious aggregartion of metaphorical bawdry before 1835 appears in bawdy Restpration songbooks, especially Playford & D'Urfey's multivolume _Wit and Mirth; or, Pills to Purge Melancholy_.  Even that is quite genteel compared to, say, the contents of Urban Dictionary.
>  JL
>"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>At 12/6/2007 10:16 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>Whippersnappers may not appreciate the extraordinary rarity of early
>>written exx. of these latterly nigh-ubiquitous terms. Occasional
>>legal testimony and the odd infuriated personal letter from an
>>uninhibited writer are almost the sole sources one can find.
>Is there more in the perhaps linguistically-more-unrestrained 17th
>and 18th centuries than the Victorian 19th? I am thinking of the
>1665 "piss-house" (OED3), although that is from a court record, and
>writings like Robert Byrd's secret diaries or Jonathan Belcher's
>letters (which have been published). Letters to 18th century
>newspapers were often blunt, sometimes with barely-disguised
>scatalogical connotations (I sometimes think that the only censorship
>was to the names of the writers and targets).

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