Alva Review-Courier -

Zounds! What the fork are minced oaths? And why are we still fecking using them today?


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Kirk Hazen, West Virginia University

(THE CONVERSATION) What in tarnation is "tarnation?" Why do people in old books exclaim "zounds!" in moments of surprise? And what could a professor of linguistics possibly have against "duck-loving crickets?"

I'll get to the crickets later. But what unites all these expressions is a desire to find acceptable versions of profane or blasphemous words. "God" becomes "gosh," "hell" becomes "heck," and "damnation" becomes "tarnation." In a...

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