Several words you can say on the Internet

I have to think the late George Carlin would have been delighted to see the arrival of Strong Language, a blog written by word experts about the seven words Carlin contended (in 1972, anyway) could never, ever be said on television, and many, many more.

One recent entry is by Nancy Friedman, on the second word in Carlin’s list:

Piss is a pretty old word in English: late 13th century, from similar words in French and Latin, according to the OED; it’s generally assumed to be onomatopoetic. For centuries it was regarded as informal but not especially naughty; in Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing (2013), Melissa Mohr notes that the King James Version of the Old Testament includes “him that pisseth against the wall” (1 Kings 14:10) and “the men … may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss” (2 Kings 18:27). (My Masoretic text, from the Jewish Publication Society of America, primly substitutes “water” for “piss” in the latter passage.)

And while you’ve been able to say “piss” on television for many years now, at least in the United Kingdom — British comics from Python on down have long told fellow troupe members, or hecklers, to piss off — it’s seldom that you see the word in an ad in The New Yorker. Friedman has, and she has a scan of it in that article.

Before you ask: yes, the site has an overview of the entire canonical Carlin list. Given its subject matter, you’d have to figure this was mandatory at some point.





1 comment

  1. LeeAnn »

    28 December 2014 · 6:18 am

    George Carlin’s seven words routine is the very first thing I memorized in my youthful quest to become a comic. The next thing I memorized was how to say “Who, me? Not me!” convincingly to several middle school authority figures. “Tater tits” still cracks me up.

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