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Mapping the F#@% Out of a Sentence

 by Bennett Gordon

Tags: Science and Technology, linguistics, curse words, Language Log,

At a recent concert, Van Morrison uttered the vulgar phrase, “Fucking shut the fuck up.” The sentence presents a challenge to the linguistic minds at Language Log. The different uses of the word “fuck” don’t affect the meaning of the sentence, since the sentiment could be conveyed simply as “shut up.” According to the blog, “The main syntactic problem is to determine whether the fuck is being used as an pleonastic (semantically empty) direct object of shut or as a pre-head modifier of the preposition phrase (PP) headed by up.” The author concludes the latter.

Source: Language Log