Hypothesis: Use of the word fuck in popular music has increased. Results: There is a significant increase in the use of fuck
I was looking thru my logs and I found that a paper I wrote in University was cited in the Cardoza Law Review (2007). One word, but still. The paper is called ‘Fuck’ and it’s by Christopher M. Fairman, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Ohio State University. The (unpublished paper of mine he cited was) ‘Fuck Linguistics’ written for my SocioLinguistics class in 2003.
This is the citation, number 64.
Suffice it to say, fuck is everywhere.59 As author Roy Blount, Jr. puts it: “the f-word is a fact of life. It thrives.”60 One recent Internet search revealed that fuck “is a more commonly used word than mom, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.”61 It is present in
movies,62 television programs,63 and popular music.64
64 See Indrajit Samarajiva, Fuck Linguistics: Use of Fuck on the Billboard Charts 1982-2002 (Dec. 8, 2003) (unpublished manuscript), http://indi.ca/papers/fuckLinguistics.pdf (finding a significant increase in the use of fuck over the past twenty years in Billboard Top Ten Albums).
And that’s it. One word, but still cool. I think he cited me in his book as well.
I really enjoyed writing that paper, though academically it was quite sloppy. Once I have a good idea I get bored of it rather fast. The data was very cool. I went through every Top 10 song from 1982 to 2002 and counted each instance of the word ‘fuck’. I went by lyric sheets.
Rising Profanity In American Music
Over the last 20 years Artists started saying fuck more. The graph above shows a marked increase in instances of fuck in popular music beginning in 1993. Since Dr. Dre dropped The Chronic in 1993, at least 100 million Americans have bought an album containing 50+ instances of fuck. These are the results of my study of 200 Top Ten albums from 1982 to 2002…
This data shows a significant increase in use of the word fuck in Pop Music over the lasts 20 years. A poly- nomial best-fit line matches the data with an R of 0.765, which is highly significant. A linear line (Pearson Coefficient) fits the data with an R of 0.706. An R value over 0.5 is generally considered significant. Artists are saying fuck more, and millions of people are and listening to it…
[A] sort of eventual tapering off seems likely for the Pop Music data because Limp Bizkit and Eminem have already begin to approach the physical limits of the number of times one can say fuck in a song.
When Dre Dropped The Chronic
The rise in profanity is largely attributable to Dr. Dre.
Who is saying fuck?
Who — Rappers, mostly Gangsta Rappers, most notably Dr. Dre. All Artists with more than 50 instances of fuck are listed in the Results section. The Top 5 Artists releasing albums full of the word fuck are Dr. Dre, Eminem, Limp Bizkit, Snoop Dogg, and the Notorious B.I.G.
The following section hypothesizes that these Gangsta Rappers espouse the same values as the gang members of Labov’s 1968 New York City study—namely violence, stealing, cursing, drinking, drugs and sex.
So, that’s my contribution to academia. Dr. Charles Boberg was a great professor, fighting off boring Chomskyites with their dreadful emphasis on syntax and grammar. The paper was really sloppily written, but the data was collected with some labor and the results were clear. Boberg was all about the data and I think he gave me a decent grade.