Sunday, November 23rd — Sex Verbs
November 24, 2008
Today I Learned…
…something very interesting about how we talk about sex in English. All of the “vulgar” verbs for the sex act are transitive verbs — in that they can fit into the construction John verbed Mary (please substitute Joan and Larry respectively, one or both, if you prefer):
fuck, screw, hump, ball, dick, bonk, bang, shag, pork, shtup
All of the more polite verbs are intransitive — they require a preposition to introduce the sexual partner:
have sex, make love, sleep together, go to bed, have relations, have intercourse, mate, copulate
Gotta love how attitudes towards sex are encoded in the very grammar of the language we’ve all agreed on. Got this from Steven Pinker’s book The Stuff of Thought, which I would recommend for anyone who is nerdy on the cognitive science or language level.