If you said the “s” word in the ninth century, you probably wouldn’t have shocked or offended anyone. Back then, the “s” word was just the everyday word that was used to refer to excrement.
That’s one of many surprising, foul-mouthed facts Melissa Mohr reveals in her new book, Holy S- - -: A Brief History of Swearing. Though the curse words themselves change over time, the category remains constant — we always have a set of words that are off-limits.
“We need some category of swear words,” Mohr says. “[These] words really fulfill a function that people have found necessary for thousands of years.”
Mohr joined NPR’s David Greene to talk about curses through the ages and how the words that offend us reveal a lot about society and its values.
This 1653 engraving by Rembrandt inspired composer Frank Martin to write his oratorio Golgotha in 1945. For the Holy Week, we’ve picked a few of our favorite musical Passions.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
- Umair Haque (more here)
When President Barack Obama takes the stage on Tuesday night to deliver his State of the Union address, he’ll attempt to take the pulse of the nation and prescribe a cure. His message is going to focus on the economy and helping the middle class. But his prescriptions, as leaked to the media, appear to be standard political fare—boost R&D, build infrastructure, more clean energy, and better schools.
That’s all good, standard stuff but familiar stuff. The problem is that Obama isn’t a very creative president. He’s progressive (which is great by me) but not creative in the sense of sharply reframing our national narrative and offering dramatically different solutions to our challenges.
Creativity is the source of economic value. Creativity takes what money can’t buy and transforms it into what money can buy. We have spent decades focusing on efficiency, and it has brought us stagnating incomes and falling mobility for the middle class. It’s time to focus on creativity.
How could the president amplify the nation’s creativity? Here are four major reframes of our national economic narrative, Mr. President.
Interesting thoughts. Really like the idea of putting “making things” at the center of education.