Swear words, etymology, and the history of English

Have you ever noticed that many of our swear words sound very much like German ones and not at all like French ones? From vulgar words for body parts (a German Arsch is easy to identify, but not so
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Have you ever noticed that many of our swear words sound very much like German ones and not at all like French ones? From vulgar words for body parts (a German Arsch is easy to identify, but not so much the French cul), to scatological and sexual verbs (doubtless you can spot what scheissen and ficken mean, but might have been more stumped bychier and baiser), right down to our words for hell (compare Hölle and enfer), English and German clearly draw their swear words from a shared stock in a way that English and French do not. Given that nearly two thirds of the words in English come from Romance roots and only a quarter from Germanic roots, this seems odd. English is a language whose vocabulary is the composite of a surprising range of influences. We have pillaged words from Latin, Greek, Dutch, Arabic, Old Norse, Spanish, Italian, Hindi, and more to make English what it is today. But the story of English is above all the story of two languages that were thrown together almost one. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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