Shut the front door: Swear words the star of new class

The article below contains language that some may find offensive.

If you are still contemplating what classes you should take next semester, consider taking The Social Life of Swearing (ANTH 245) with Dr. Chelsea Mead.

You don’t have to be an anthropology major in order to take this class. Dr. Mead reassures students that “all you need to bring is a passion for late language, maybe a passion for swearing, and you’ll be ok in the class.”

It covers Goal Areas seven and nine, and on top of that, it is also considered a Purple course. This is your opportunity to learn how swear words came to be, and most importantly how language affects your daily life.

This class will be focusing on how your favorite swear words have evolved over time, for example, how words or phrases in the 13th century were much more offensive than we would consider today. Dr. Mead will also be covering how different cultures and languages are perceived differently. One part to really look forward to is a whole week dedicated to everyone’s favorite, infamous F-word.

“I think I’m going to have an entire week dedicated to the word ‘fuck’ because it’s such a fabulous word,” Dr. Mead Said. “In the English language, you have prefixes and suffixes… We don’t really have infixes. The only one that we have is ‘fuck’.”

An example that Dr. Mead provided was the word “abso-fucking-lutely.” Anyone that hears this word knows what you’re talking about. She explains that these are intensifiers that are also infixes. In the English language, we don’t really have infixes, except for the word ‘fuck.’ She continues to explain that you could give anyone a list of words and to put the word ‘fuck’ or “some variation of it” and they will mostly all be able to put it in a similar way.

“What’s cool about that is that that reflects this grammatical knowledge. We know these grammatical rules of how to do language without consciously thinking about them,” Dr. Mead said.

This class will help you understand how language is “culturally contextualized” and be able to apply this knowledge of communication into the real world. Dr. Mead explains that taking an anthropology class will help you be give you a “well-rounded preparation” to take skills learned, such as critical thinking, communication, and taking in all the data you have learned, and apply those into your world. Whether that is your personal or professional life, and even in your other courses.

“Your anthro classes aren’t going to be ones that you check off “that class is done,”’ Dr. Mead said. “We don’t do shallow learning in anthro. We do deep application learning.”

Dr. Mead has been teaching at MNSU for four years, going on five next semester. She also teaches Anthropology 269 which is anthropology of sex. Anthropology 240 as well, which is an introduction to linguistic anthropology and covers how language is perceived by different people and culture.

“Sometimes students are maybe a little nervous to study language,” Dr. Mead said. “But we use it all the time. It’s inescapable. I think once students realize ‘I can study swearing? I could study all the different ways that we talk about something?’ they get interested.”

As for Dr. Mead’s favorite swear word?

“I really like the word ‘fuck’,” said Dr. Mead. “I like all words but, but I do think that the word ‘fuck’ is just kind of fun because it can be so diverse.”

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