Volume 17 · Number 1 · Pages 018–020
Some Good Words about Curses, and a Few Damning Ones about Bowdlerization

Sean Patrick O’Neill

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Open peer commentary on the article “Euphemisms vs. Dysphemisms, or How we Construct Good and Bad Language” by Andrey S. Druzhinin. Abstract: Swearwords sometimes get a bad reputation in the academic literature on language, often getting expunged from the published records, based on their potentially offensive emotional character. Yet supposedly innocuous euphemisms often pass, without much notice, despite the darker references they sometimes mask. Such issues get right to the heart of the philosophy of language, in terms of reaching an audience in both emotional and intellectual terms.


O’Neill S. P. (2021) Some good words about curses, and a few damning ones about bowdlerization. Constructivist Foundations 17(1): 018–020. https://constructivist.info/17/1/018

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Sean O’Neill is an anthropologist who specializes in the indigenous languages of the Americas, particularly in relation to artistic expressions in the form of poetry, music, and song. He earned his doctorate at the University of California at Davis, and is currently a Full Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on the languages of the Americas, including The Collected Works of Edward Sapir Volume XIV: Northwest California Linguistics (2001, together with Victor Golla) and Cultural Contact and Linguistic Relativity among the Indians of Northwestern California (2008) His musical background includes making stringed instruments (guitars, ouds, and violins) as well as writing and performing in multiple musical genres. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
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