Posted by: cochinblogger | June 25, 2010

The Most Powerful Word in the English Language

Is the most powerful word in the English language love? No. Is it truth? No. Is it peace? No. Is it justice? No. Is it freedom? No. Is it democracy? No. Is it God? No.

Give up, gentle reader? OK, here goes. The most powerful word in the English language is f**k. It grieves me to inflict so rude a word on so gentle a reader — but there it is. You will find this writer firmly on the side of the truth, however unpalatable or rude it may be.

The F-word is powerful because of its unique capacity to shock. We learned its power as  schoolboys. A mere whisper of the word, nay, a silent mouthing of it, was enough to induce apoplexy in adults. For sex-starved adolescents the world over, the F-word stands for forbidden fruit.

It is the power to shock of this taboo word that the ad on the hoarding (billboard) in the above picture exploits. It’s a delicious trick, because it can be argued that the word stands for “fastrack,” the brand being advertised.  The letter count fits this hypothesis.

But, hey, tell that to the birds. 🙂 The brain is nothing if not a master pattern recognizer, and this is a template every schoolboy recognizes.

It may surprise you that scholarly works on the F-word have been published, the most recent probably being the third edition of The F Word by Jerry Sheidlower, editor-at-large for the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s a scholarly compilation of everything you wanted to know about the F-word and ancillary compounds, but were afraid to ask.

Here is the book’s Web site.

Here is a review: World Wide Words

Article by Jerry Sheidlower himself: Why It’s So Hard to Put Sex in the Dictionary

And finally, Osho himself on the myriad ways the f-word can be used:

Osho on the F-Word

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