We are happy to announce a talk by Ruby Sleeman (Institute of Mediterranean Studies) & Nicolas Lamoure (Goethe University) in the Historical Linguistics Colloquium.

Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Room: IG 2.201

Time: 2 pm – 4 pm ct

Title: „F*cking with nouns, not f*cking with verbs“


This study expands on previous literature on borrowing curse words from English into other languages (ten Buuren et al. 2018, Vatvedt Fjeld et al. 2019, Zenner et al. 2017, a.o.) and focuses on the syntactic distribution of the borrowed adjective/adverb fucking in the goal languages Dutch and German. We created 2000 token random samples (Kilgariff et al. 2004, 2014) for both Dutch (using nlTenTen20) and German (using deTenTen20), which we handsorted and contrasted with a random sample of 2000 handsorted results for English (enTenTen21). Despite a handful of instances of verbal modification, the overwhelming amount of hits pertained to adjectival, adverbial and nominal modification. Why does the modifier fucking occur freely with nouns, adjectives, and verbs in English, but allows for very limited verbal modification in Dutch and German? We suggest that the lack of verbal modification with fucking can only partially be blamed on structural incompatibility.