dirty words in dictionaries revisted

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Dec 18 04:58:38 UTC 2004

At 11:22 PM -0500 12/17/04, Wilson Gray wrote:
>On Dec 17, 2004, at 12:04 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>>Subject:      Re: dirty words in dictionaries revisted
>>Literature has preserved at least one 18th C "pee" from Britain. If it
>>was chiefly a child's term, it could easily have gone
>>unrecorded/unfound for 150 years.  The matter may not be resolvable.
>Needless to say. The French still say "faire pipi" to this day,
>probably just to urinate off Dubya.
>-Wilson Gray
Well, they do have a slight advantage in that their "pipi" preserves
(and reduplicates) the vowel of their "pisse", while we're tenser
when we "pee" and laxer when we "piss", so it seems more likely that
ours was an initialism-type euphemism (à la effing, etc.) than that
theirs was.  (Not to mention the fact that their letter is pronounced
[pe], so the initialism wouldn't get too far off the ground.)


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