This Expletives Article is SFW

Can you find profanity in the following sentences?

There are 10 people in line. The final goal brought victory to the game. There is a delay in construction. Your vote matters.

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Photo: Sadeugra

No ‘beep’ required at all

All these sayings can be broadcast on television networks because the obscene words appearing in the above sentences are not obscene words.

obscene meaning “an obscene or obscene word” dating back to the 17th century.

He had learned this, like, from rude thugs, to whom abuses were often just profanities, and terrible oaths, interjects. . — John Trapp, A commentary or presentation on the four missionaries1647

The meaning of the word gained popularity during the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s when White House tape recordings relating to the scandal were released with profanity replaced by the phrase “” remove profanity”.

To Haldeman’s comment that Federal Reserve Board Chairman Arthur F. Burns was worried about speculating on the Italian lira, Nixon is said to have responded: “Well, I don’t have an opinion. (explicitly deleted) about the lira.” — ScienceAugust 23, 1974

However, before being used for bad words, obscene is the name of the “empty” ones. Back in the 15th century, grammarians were looking for a term for words and phrases that served no purpose other than filling in a sentence or line of data without adding to its meaning. They switched to Latin secretionsmeans “serve to fill,” as a suitable name, change it to obscene.

In the sentences at the beginning of this article, the proverbial grammar words are “there are”, “it was”, “there were” and “it is.” They are obscene words because they can be removed without affecting the meaning conveyed by the words that follow. Removing an obscene word not only makes the sentence more concise, but also conveys the meaning clearly.

Ten people are queuing. The ultimate goal won the game. Construction work is delayed. Your vote counts.

Grammatically, the profanities in our introductory examples are words used to signal to the reader or listener that the real subject will follow. This aspect of an obscene word has earned it the nickname “fake subject”.

See more:  Getting in the (Subjunctive) Mood

Works like Have And that is are not always obscene words when they are used at the beginning of a sentence. For example:

“I’ve always loved painting. It’s one of the most important parts of my life.”

In the first sentence, the word painting introduced. Pronouns It then is used in the following sentence instead of painting. Because painting mentioned before, the reader or listener knows that the premise of It To be paintinggive It means. This means It It is not an obscenity—a word that complements an upcoming subject—but is the subject of a sentence and, therefore, has grammatical meaning.

Overuse of profanity can certainly throw your writing off-topic, but every now and then profanity here and there can be helpful in changing sentence structure and adding a twist. A welcome change of pace for a complex piece of writing. In general, nongrammatical profanity should be avoided in formal writing as it also does not add meaning to a statement—however, it can be effective in tone or mood.

Like more R-rated profanity, you should really assess whether the situation is necessary before including it in your article.

Categories: Usage Notes

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