Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Shaun F. D. Hughes

Committee Chair

Shaun F. D. Hughes

Committee Member 1

Victor Raskin

Committee Member 2

Mary Niepokuj


Currently, scholarship in the field of linguistic taboo concentrates on the history of cursing, the usage of cursing in society, methodologies for collecting data on cursing, and the history and use of particular terms. However to date, there has been no examination of the semantic shifts of taboo terms, nor has there been any analyses of the history of the semantic fields of which these terms have membership, and so this study serves as a model for analyzing taboo terms according to etymological and semantic field history. This analysis reveals the interplay between language, culture, and taboo terminology because it demonstrates that as attitudes in society change, language changes, and thus results in semantic shifts of meaning and taboo status. ^ This thesis is structured in three main chapters: (1) Introduction, describing the purpose, analyzing the available literature on the topic, and defining the methodology; (2) Data, tracing the history of the semantic field of excrement from Old English to Present-Day English, with particular attention to shit; (3) Discussion, Conclusions, and Future Research.

Included in

Linguistics Commons