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Author of ‘F-Word’ gives talk on sexual language at Gemini Scorpio loft in Gowanus

Watch your mouth: Language expert exposes history of sexual words

for The Brooklyn Paper

“After he g--------- her for over an hour, George suspected Sally didn’t want to s---- and so he went to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal instead.”

If you are not familiar with super old-school language, this could mean anything, but if you are, this newspaper apologizes for offending your sensibilities.

Author of “The F-Word” and Oxford English Dictionary editor-at-large Jesse Sheidlower is giving an illustrated talk on profane sexual language to entertain and enlighten Brooklynites — especially those who depend on a dictionary to expand their dirty vocabulary.

Sheidlower says dictionaries have historically dropped the ball when it comes to everyday sex talk, leaving out words or giving woefully limited definitions, said the expert.

“For example, sexual intercourse [was] defined as coitus and coitus [was] defined as sexual intercourse,” said Sheidlower, who’ll be speaking at the Gemini and Scorpio loft in Gowanus.

But that hasn’t stopped writers from finding lewd venues to express themselves — Sheidlower found frequent historic uses of some of English’s dirtiest words while researching for his book.

“[It] usually wasn’t written down,” he said. “[But] the word was extremely common in Victorian pornography. C--- is all over the place and so is f---.”

Another place Sheidlower found the word f--- was in legal documents — often in cases debating the word’s legitimacy.

“When you have a word that usually isn’t written down, and people don’t talk about it, legal cases are a great place to look because if there is legal import to a word, it’ll have to get written down in court records,” he said. “The fact that that word was not in dictionaries, it was argued [in court] that the word didn’t exist.”

In the end, any discussion of dirty words is an academic one, so Sheidlower’s talk is bound to get hot and heavy — with history.

“It is going to be an informed, serious historical discussion,” Sheidlower said of the talk. “I will be discussing sexual [and scatological] terms and I will be doing it very explicitly.”

Sex in the Dictionary at the Gemini & Scorpio Loft (RSVP to get address. www.geminiandscorpio.com/events.html) Feb. 26, 8 pm, $10.

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Reader Feedback

Trey Dooley from WT says:
Can some younger person please translate the first sentence for me? My Victorian-era ears can handle the titillation!
Feb. 25, 2013, 8:33 am
I hate you from the bottom of my heart says:
And the second please. "Super old school language." How does this make it to print. Jesus.
Feb. 25, 2013, 10:25 am

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