328. Nouns and verbs

328nouns

Albert was taking a university course in etymology. Who would have thought that the study of words, their origins and how they change would be so fascinating? Today they were discussing verbs.

“Are there any questions?” asked the professor.

Albert raised his hand. “Excuse me, sir,” he said, “but could you say something about the use of verbs that might be regarded as ‘dirty’?”

“There are two main verbs here: fucking and wanking. Let’s start with wanking,” said the professor. “Wanking is very common in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. It is less common in Canada and the United States, although it’s starting to grab hold. I’m not sure how popular wanking is in South Africa.”

“Fucking is common all over the English-speaking world. We find fucking as far back as 1475, but it’s conceivably a lot older. Wanking may be growing in popularity, but fucking is still more prevalent and has a greater degree of flexibility.”

“What about the C-word?” asked Albert.

“Today we’re dealing with verbs,” said the professor, slightly riled. “The C-word is a noun. That question will have to wait another day.”

Gentle thoughts and expressions of astoundedness are both gratefully accepted.

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