ce qui le tabernacle

it cannot be mere coincidence that i was made an honourary canadian on the same day as the beloved languagelog runs a story about my favorite swear word of all time: tabernacle.

the 'log links to a little story in the washington post, which explains quite simply that for quebecois, due to long repression by the catholic church, religion is taboo, and not sex (cf. fuck) or scatology. wiki, as usual, has a very nice explanation of what happened and why, and a whole list of sacred swear words.

it reminds one of an absolutely wonderful (but rather technical in parts) paper on the deep structure of sentences like Fuck you by Quang Phuc Dong (of the South Hanoi Institute of Technology), nom de guerre linguistique (Harris: 1993) of Jim McCawley, one of my favorite linguists. other McCawley titles include "Where you can shove infixes" and "Verbs of bitching".

the paper linked above argues that such sentences are not imperative commands, and that in fact, fuck in this usage is seemingly not a verb at all. though he closes with the conjecture that this sense may have arisen historically from the more standard sense of the word.

so, to sum up:
tabernacle (profane reading)
Jim McCawley

these are a few of my favorite things.