World 500-year-old manuscript contains one of earliest known uses of the “F-word”

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    [UPDATE 4/7/2020: Kristin Uscinski, a medieval historian at the State University of New York, Purchase, wrote in to inform us of an even earlier appearance of the F-word in the English language, "Roger F$#%-by-the-Navel who appears in some court records from 1310-11. I always make sure my students are aware of good ole Roger."]

    Scotland has much to recommend it: impressive architecture, gorgeous Highlands, and a long, distinguished intellectual tradition that has spawned some of the Western world's greatest thinkers over several centuries. It's also, apparently, home to a medieval manuscript that contains the earliest known usage of the swearword "F#$%."

    The profanity appears in a poem recorded by a bored student in Edinburgh while under lockdown as the plague ravaged Europe—something we can all relate to these days. The poem is getting renewed attention thanks to its inclusion in a forthcoming BBC Scotland documentary exploring the country's long, proud tradition of swearing, Scotland—Contains Strong Language.

    The Bannatyne Manuscript gets its name from a young 16th-century Edinburgh merchant named George Bannatyne, who compiled the roughly 400 poems while stuck at home in late 1568, as the plague ravaged his city. It's an anthology of Scottish literature, particularly the texts of poems by some of the country's greatest bards (known as makars) in the 15th and 16th centuries. According to a spokeswoman for the National Library of Scotland (where the manuscript is housed), "It has long been known that the manuscript contains some strong swearwords that are now common in everyday language, although at the time, they were very much used in good-natured jest."

    The five sections to the compilation are devoted to religious themes, moral or philosophical themes, love ballads, fables and allegories, and comedy, especially satire. The latter section is where one is most likely to encounter the swears, particularly in the poetry of William Dunbar and Walter Kennedy. Both poets feature in the poem where the notorious F-word appears: "The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie."


    Read more here (Ars Technica)

    Ok, we can now confirm the word, "fuck", is an ancient word.
     

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