Chapter 4


This chapter will examine the referential and emotive meanings associated with fuck-constructions. Outside of its general interest as a commonly used swearword, fuck is of particular value in illustrating how apparent synonyms can be explicated in a way which clearly captures both their similarities and differences.


Fuck is recognised, even by non-specialists, as a word with many different uses and meanings. Indeed, this aspect of fuck's use has passed into popular folklore; a document which widely circulates via photocopiers and fax machines proclaims that fuck is "our most versatile word" and goes on to give many examples of its use (this is reproduced as an appendix to the present chapter). From this wealth of constructions, I have selected those which are especially common in Australian usage, as well as some which highlight particular aspects of the semantics of swearing.

One important topic for discussion is the referential use of fuck in sentences such as the following:

(1) Female, 24: Then we went to his room and fucked like crazy. (Australian Women's Forum #16, March 1993, p. 67)

The second common usage discussed here is the exclamatory use, fuck!:

(2) Male, 21: Fuck, you're a loser! (5/93)

Another widely used construction uses fucking as a type of intensifier:

(3) Male, 18: I was in fucking hysterics! (4/93)

This will be referred to as fucking (adj). Just as three usages account for a wide variety of shit-constructions, the three usages just discussed represent the main uses of fuck. Nonetheless, there are a number of other widely used constructions involving fuck which will also be discussed.

These will include fuck off, fuck you/get fucked, who/what the fuck?, and I'm fucked/I feel fucked. Examples of each are given below:

(4) Female, 22: Rodney, fuck off. The doors are locked for a reason. (3/93)

(5) Fuck you bitch! (Hot Metal #53, July 1993, p. 31)

(6) Who the fuck does Medicine Man think he is? (Hot Metal #53, July 1993, p. 31)

(7) Male, 18: Oh my god I feel fucked! (5/93)


As noted above, a wide range of meanings are associated with fuck. Patridge (1984:432-433) lists over fifty possible constructions and collocations containing fuck. Taylor (1975), in a specifically Australian context, discusses largely those constructions addressed in this chapter, as well as fuck me dead (27), fuck me if . . . (28) and I'm fucked if I . . . (29). Collectively, these examples suggest that an important issue here will be the link between emotive and referential usage, or, to put it another way, does an expression like Fuck you! really convey a meaning along the lines of "I hope someone does something sexual to you"?

Creative extension allows fuck to be introduced into new constructions, providing further data on the referential/emotive distinction. Simmons (1967:229), for instance, discusses the college term rat-fucker, which describes a coathanger used for breaking and entering the rooms of freshmen (known as rats). In this case the penetrative link tofuck (referential) seems particularly obvious. However, each construction needs to be examined individually to determine if such links exist.


4.3.1 Fuck (referential)

A diverse body of research exists on the meaning and use of fuck (referential). Much of this has focused on gender differences in uses of this term. Sanders and Robinson (1979), in a study of male/female differences in sexual description, noted that males were far more likely to use fuck (referential) in any context. Germaine Greer (1981:41) claims that

All the vulgar linguistic emphasis is placed upon the poking element: fucking, screwing, rooting, shagging are all acts performed upon the passive female.

The essence of this claim appears to be that to fuck is a necessarily male activity. This would be an important aspect of the semantics of fuck (referential) if it were an accurate claim. Available examples suggest that it is not, however. (8) shows that fuck (referential) can be used to describe something done to a man by a woman, while (9) shows it can also be used for a mutual, simultaneous activity:

(8) Male, ??: Laurette then mounted him and fucked him senseless. (Australian Forum #4.8, 1993, p. 25)

(9) Female, 26: We fucked standing up, fast and furious, until we both came. (Australian Women's Forum #14, January 1993, p. 72)

Some studies isolate important meaning elements associated with fuck (referential). Dong (1971b) notes, like Greer, that the preferred subject of fuck (referential) is male, but does not claim this to be absolute. Dong also points out that the subject of fuck (referential) must generally be human (13). Wang (1971) draws attention to similar aspects, such as the need for specifying orifices other than the vagina or the use of abnormal instruments in the action of fucking, suggesting that the default form of fucking is the insertion of a penis into the vagina. Finally, Montagu (1967:305) calls fuck (referential) "the transitive verb for the most transitive of human actions", reflecting the fact that fucking is normally an activity carried out by two people. As the examples so far show, however, fuck (referential) can be used both transitively (e.g. (9)) and instransitively (e.g. (8)). This will need to be captured in the explication.

While these distinctions are relevant, they all appear to represent idealised situations rather than necessary elements of meaning. Fucking can be used to describe intercourse taking place between people of the same sex, between more than two people, and involving more than vaginal intercourse. All these possibilities are encapsulated by the following sentence:

(10) Male, ??: I watched with enjoyment as my wife got fucked at both ends. (Australian Forum #4.8, 1993, p. 50)

The possibility of multiple positions being involved is also suggested by the following:

(11) Female, 22: I was so horny I threw the mag in the air and begged him to fuck me. He was so turned on by my begging that he fucked me better than he ever has before in just about every position possible. (Australian Women's Forum #20, July 1993, p. 66)

The scholars discussed above also fail to address what is perhaps the most interesting aspect of fuck (referential): its relationship to closely synonymous terms such as making love, having sex, rooting, shagging, screwing, bonking and so forth. While exploring the semantic difference between all these terms is beyond the scope of this study, the distinction between fucking and making love will be discussed.

Lakoff (1975:67) claims that fuck (referential) "most directly describes the situation" of having sex. Far more than directness is involved, a fact recognised by ordinary speakers of the language, who can specifically draw attention to the distinction:

(12) Male, ??: We fucked - no, let me put it another way - we made love right there on the floor for hours. (Australian Forum #4.8, 1993, p. 83)

The essential difference between the two terms is not hard to grasp, and indeed is somewhat obvious from their surface forms. Making love involves some kind of emotional involvement, as the word love implies; the non-physical relationship between the two participants is important. Fuck (referential), on the other hand, seems more exclusively focused on physical pleasure. Accordingly, it can be used to describe a sexual desire for an unknown third person, unlike make love:

(13) Male, 18: I'd fuck her! [about television host] (5/93)

The association of fuck (referential) with casual, unthinking experience is also obvious in the following examples:

(14) Male, ??: A fuck is just a fuck - right? (Australian Forum #4.8, 1993, p. 80)

(15) Male, 21: She might just be in it for a casual fuck! (8/93)

Note in this connection that it seems much odder to describe a sexual act between three people as making love than as fucking. While the possibility of physical pleasure being gained in this situation exists, mutual and exclusive love between the participants is far less likely. This is particularly apparent in a series of letters in Australian Forum #4.8, grouped under the heading "Eye For An Eye", and concerned with men watching their female partners have casual sex with other men. Invariably, the action of the invading lover is described as a fuck (referential):

(16) Male, ??: It wasn't until then that I found out what I had been searching for sexually - my wife being fucked by another man. (Australian Forum #4.8, 1993, p. 31)

Any subsequent sexual activities on the part of the voyeur, however, may still qualify as making love.

These considerations suggest an explication for fuck (referential) as follows:

(17) fuck (referential) e.g. Max and Betty are fucking

(a) Sometimes something like this happens:

(b) Two people do something together

(c) by putting parts of their bodies inside one another

(d) which can cause them to feel something good in their bodies

(e) Max and Betty are doing something like this

(f) I say this about Max and Betty: {Max and Betty are fucking}

(g) People would say this is a very bad thing to say

Components (b) through (d) present a prototype scenario for fuck (referential), emphasising the physical pleasure gained and not specifying in depth how this is achieved. This explication thus captures the range of situations to which fuck (referential) can be applied.

Slight differences in sentence structure can also be easily reflected in such an explication. In the case of a transitive sentence such as

(18) Female, 27: I wanted desperately to fuck her. (Australian Women's Forum #18, May 1993, p. 67)

the meaning of fuck in the sentence can be captured by altering component (e) to:

(e) I want to do something like this to her

Thus the semantic prototype for fucking remains the same, but can be applied to both mutual and dominant situations. Similarly, in the case of group sex component (e) can be altered to add the extra participants, while retaining the idea that fucking is prototypically carried out between two people.

Since the main purpose of this section is to establish an explication for fuck (referential), I will not pursue in detail the question of the meaning of making love. Based on the observations above, however, the following is an approximate explication:

(19) making love e.g. Max and Betty are making love

(a) Sometimes something like this happens:

(b) Two people do something together

(c) by making parts of their body touch

(d) which can cause them to feel something good in their bodies

(e) these people feel something good about each other because of this

(f) these people want to be with each other

(e) Max and Betty are doing this kind of thing

4.3.2 Fuck!

Despite its frequent use, Fuck! has not been widely discussed in the literature. Staley (1978) describes typical conditions for its use as "disgust, exasperation, and bad feelings", among others, but does not seek out what the common elements of such conditions are. As already mentioned in Section 3.3.2, Fuck! appears similar in meaning to Shit!, and Sewell (1984) classes both as "strong profanity", suggesting a great similarity between the two. Differences between the two terms can be discerned, however, and these will be the focus of discussion here.

The following actual examples of the use of Fuck! show how widely it can be employed:

(20) Male, 18: Fuck, I forgot to post the letters again! (3/93)

(21) Male, 22: Fuck, it'll be eleven o'clock by the time I get home! (5/93)

(22) Female, 22: Oh fuck, it's raining - lucky I brought my clothes in! (6/93)

(23) Male, 18: Fuck, I've gotta get a haircut! (6/93)

(24) Female, 24: Fuck, that hurt! (7/93)

As with Shit!, the range of situations in which fuck! can be used is very varied, encompassing, on the evidence of the above examples, lateness, pain, disarrayed appearance, forgetfulness and inclement weather. Rather confusingly, the central component for Shit!, "I didn't think this would happen", also seems applicable to all the examples given. What, then, is the difference between the two usages?

I would argue that the principle difference lies in the expectedness, desirability of and degree of personal involvement in the situation being judged. Fuck! seems more appropriate in situations which directly, and negatively, affect the speaker, causing them personal annoyance or distress. As a result, Fuck! is more likely to be linked with a desire for action. All this can be captured very simply through the component "I didn't want this to happen to me". While the explication for Shit! includes the component "I didn't want this", the component for Fuck! reflects the greater degree of immediacy and personal involvement. An explication for Fuck! will then read as follows:

(25) Fuck!

(a) Sometimes a person thinks something like this:

(b) Something has happened

(c) I didn't want this to happen to me

(d) This person feels something bad because of this

(e) This person would want to do something because of this

(f) I feel something like this now

(g) I say: {Fuck!}

(h) People would say this is a very bad thing to say

(i) I say this because I want to say how I feel

The principle points of difference from Shit!, discussed in Section 3.3.2, are incorporated into this explication. The presence of component (e) also provides a type of link between fuck (referential) and Fuck!; both involve the notion of action. This does not mean, however, that one can be reduced to the other. Note also that Fuck! is explicated as "a very bad thing to say", since social prohibitions on its use appear greater; media uses of the expression, for instance, seem virtually non-existent.

Both explications have in common the initial component "Something had happened". The presence of this component helps explain why expletives of this nature are frequently accompanied by an explanatory comment. On its own, an utterance like Fuck! does not make it clear just what is being judged as unwanted, and the speaker may wish to specify this if it is not obvious from the context. The specification of feeling "something like this" allows for examples like (22) above, where the negative effects of the situation have in fact already been guarded against. It also allows for the use of Fuck! in ways which do not seem directly negative, although no such examples are present here.

Perhaps the most relevant point that can be made about the explications for Shit! and Fuck! is that to a considerable extent they overlap in their applicability to any given situation. Something which the speaker did not think would happen can also be something which the speaker did not want to happen to them. Consider again the following two examples:

(26) Male, 30s: Shit, that hurt! [when hit in side of face] (The Late Show, ABC-TV, 31/7/93)

(27) Female, 24: Fuck, that hurt! (7/93)

These show that the individual conceptualisation of the speaker will ultimately determine which expletive is used.

The first speaker here focuses on the surprising nature of the pain, and perhaps also on the "public" nature of the utterance, and accordingly uses Shit! he second instead concentrates on the undesirability of the experience, and uses Fuck! The terms are neither synonymous nor contradictory, but overlapping.

The explications for Fuck! and Shit! proposed here are, I think, a particularly good vindication of the NSM approach. The use of a semantically primitive vocabulary allows us to construct accurate and differing explications for separate forms, while at the same time the similarities between the two can be readily appreciated without the need for ad hoc formal devices.

4.3.3 Fucking (adj)

The use of fucking as an adjective in Australian English is a very widespread phenomenon (cf. Montagu 1967:314 on the prevalance of fuck in adjectival constructions). Indeed, on the basis of my own observation, I would go so far as to suggest that fucking is overtaking bloody as "the great Australian adjective" amongst younger speakers. Notice in this respect that in the appendix to this chapter, nearly all the humorous examples supplied contain fucking (adj). The following are some typical examples of its use:

(28) Female, 20: She's a fucking bitch! (3/93)

(29) Male, 20: It was fucking boring! [on a seminar] (3/93)

(30) Male, 22: Bet you she'd fucking throw you round the bedroom! (5/93)

(31) Female, 29: One of the fucking animals who did this to me walked up to me out of nowhere. (Australian Women's Forum #18, May 1993, p. 67)

(32) Male, 30s: I've dropped the shoulder to go through it, and it's like a fucking brick wall. (Inside Sport #N20, p. 110)

The range of uses for fucking (adj) here and in the following examples suggests that whatever meaning is attached to this word, it must be a fairly general one. That the sexual meaning of the homophonous fucking (verb) is absent from the adjectival counterpart is obvious from the acceptability of the following sentence, which would be somewhat tautologous if the meaning of fucking (adj) included a sexual component:

(33) Male, 22: She caught him fuckin' rooting around! (5/93)

While fucking (adj) may at first sight seem to have an essentially negative character (Taylor (1975) proposes that it includes the feature (+vehemence) a closer examination of its use suggests that this is not so. While all the examples given above appear to use fucking (adj) to convey negative characteristics, it can also be used in a positive context

(34) Male, 18: Fuckin' funny! (5/93)

(35) Male, 20: That's a fucking beauty - that's a fucking good rose! (3/93)

(36) Female, ??: Women aren't funny. We're fucking hilarious! (Australian Playgirl #1, April 1993, p. 18)

Positive uses of fucking (adj) appear far more widespread than in the case of exclamatory Shit! and Fuck!, and accordingly this range of use will need to be captured in the explication itself.

The semantic formula will also need to be compatible with the fact that fucking (adj), more than most swearwords, is able to be repeated several times in the one sentence, or across a stretch of discourse, as can be clearly seen in the following examples (the first is repeated from Chapter 1):

(37) Male, 18: She was a fucking textbook fucking boxer's fucking girlfriend - she looked so fucking dumb! (5/93)

(38) Serene is a cocksucking fuckin' mole. What's wrong with her? Can't she write a fuckin' review properly? Also, Jason will never be near as good as Cliff Burton, and he doesn't try to be as good. But fucking Serene the slut was trying to make it sound like he was. You're a fucking bitch Serene and I will never read another one of your reviews again. ("Lisa", Hot Metal #53, July 1993, p. 31)

To capture all these elements, I would propose the following explication:

(39) fucking (adj)

(a) I'm thinking about something

(b) I feel something because of this

(c) I say: {fucking}

(d) Other people would say this is a bad thing to say

(e) I say this because I want to show that I feel something

Component (b) captures the emotive character of fucking (adj) without specifying precisely what that emotion is. Unlike some previous explications, component (e) has not been phrased as "I say this because I want to say how I feel" because the feeling in question is imprecise (and hence compatible with both positive and negative situations). The existence of an emotional attitude seems more important than specifying what that emotion is; the customary assumption that it is a "bad" feeling reflects the "bad" form which the language expressing it takes.

This lack of explicitness also allows the repeated use of fucking (adj); repeated uses intensify the sense of emotion conveyed without continuously repeating specific ideas. Fucking (adj) for males can thus apparently serve as an acceptable form of emotional outlet; the combination of the "unmasculine" act of showing one's feelings with the notion of "saying something bad" allows the speaker to convey an emotion (albeit inspecifically) without compromising "masculine" values.

4.3.4 Fuck off!

The fuck off! construction is used with a meaning very roughly equivalent to "go away!". It suggests, however, a much greater degree of bad feeling towards the addressee:

The tennis player, John McEnroe['s] . . . long and shameful record of public obscenity culminated in his being ejected from the Australian Open Championships for telling the umpire, amongst other things, to 'Fuck off!' (Hughes 1991:187)

The idea that fuck off! is in some ways a reaction to an invasion of privacy is apparent in the following examples, both of which were provoked by the writer's noting down of an initial swearword:

(40) Female, 22: And who else has got that one, and the whole fucking tape - fuck off Angus! (4/93)

(41) Male, 18: Get fucked, too - fuck off Angus! (4/93)

The use of the following example in a post-coital context shows that fuck off! has no direct sexual meaning:

(42) Female, 26: I told him to get dressed, take his ineffectual excuse for a penis and fuck off! (Australian Women's Forum #16, March 1993, p. 67)

Bearing these factors in mind, I would propose the following explication:

(43) Fuck off!

(a) I'm thinking about you

(b) I think something you have done is bad

(c) I don't want to be in the same place as you because of this

(d) I feel something bad because of this

(e) I say: {Fuck off!}

(f) Other people would say this is a very bad thing to say

(g) I say this because I want you to know what I feel

(h) and to do something because of this

Component (b) reflects the use of Fuck off! as a response to actions, rather than to unchangeable states. Note that the final component only specifies that the speaker wishes the addressee to do something. While in many cases this will be to go away, it may also be the cessation of an action. This general formulation captures both possibilities, while the presence of component (c) makes the "go away" interpretation the most likely one. Note in this respect that Fuck off! differs from Piss off!, which can only be interpreted as a request to go away and never as a request to cease some action.

4.3.5 Fuck you!/Get fucked

Like fuck off!, there has been little research on the related constructions Fuck you! and get fucked. The only discussion I am aware of is in Dong (1971a:3-4), where the principle observations are that the fuck you structure is not generally available for other imperatives (*Assert you) and embedding of such constructions is not possible(*I said to fuck you), suggesting that they are not true imperatives.

The following are some typical examples of the constructions (some have been seen elsewhere in this chapter):

(44) Male, 18: Get fucked too - fuck off Angus! (4/93)

(45) Serene can get fucked. (Hot Metal #53, July 1993, p. 31)

(46) Now it's our turn to say 'Fuck you'. (Hot Metal #53, July 1993, p. 31)

(47) Male, 18: Get fucked! [to abusive telephone caller] (5/93)

The chief difference between fuck you! and get fucked seems to be that suggested by their pronomial forms; fuck you! is only suitable for second person reference, while get fucked can be used across a wider range of reference. Given that so many swearwords are primarily directed to the second person, the existence of a separate form to accomplish this is not surprising.

If both constructions are interpreted literally, they seem somewhat ironic: given that the apparent intent is to wish a nasty experience upon the addressee, suggesting a pleasurable activity seems somewhat unusual, even when couched in "unpleasant" language. The fact that the construction is nonetheless used suggests that no trace of the sexual meaning is intended. This is also apparent from the following example:

(48) Female, 22: Get fucked! [when offered intercourse] (7/93)

There also appears to be an implication of disregard in both constructions, a sense that any influence the addressee may have once exercised is now cancelled. The general meaning conveyed seems similar to that for fuck off! just discussed, with the absence of a "place-related" component.

I would therefore suggest the following explication:

(49) Get fucked

(a) I'm thinking about someone

(b) I think: something this person has done is bad

(c) I feel something bad because of this

(d) I don't think good things about this person because of this

(e) I want something bad to happen to this person

(f) I say: {Get fucked}

(g) Other people would say this is a very bad thing to say

(h) I say this because I want this person to know what I think

Note that there is no explicit action based component at the end of this explication, because get fucked seems more a defiant gesture than a definite request for action. (This is obvious in its use in a printed medium, such as the Hot Metal examples above, where the possibility of direct action is non-existent). Further, the illocutionary purpose is to convey the speaker's thoughts and reactions, not merely their emotional stance.

The explication for fuck you! will be very similar, with appropriate adjustments for person. Fuck you! also appears, however, to convey a sense of disinterest in the future predicament of the addressee. This is captured in component (f) below:

(50) Fuck you!

(a) I'm thinking about you

(b) I think: something you have done is bad

(c) I feel something bad because of this

(d) I don't think good things about you because of this

(e) I want something bad to happen to you

(f) I won't think about you after this

(g) I say: {Fuck you!}

(h) Other people would say this is a very bad thing to say

(i) I say this because I want you to know what I think

4.3.6 Who/what the fuck . . .

At the commencement of this study, I felt that constructions such as what the fuck were somewhat marginal and probably not worthy of explication. The following set of examples, however, taken from a diverse set of correspondents to the magazine Hot Metal (#53, July 1993, p. 31) shows that it is clearly highly salient for some speakers (and also demonstrates the dangers of assuming one's semantic intuitions on swearing usage to be typical):

(51) What the fuck's wrong with them?

(52) What the fuck is going on?

(53) What the fuck about FNM?

(54) Who the fuck does Serene think she is?

(55) Who the fuck does Medicine Man think he is?

The main difference between who the fuck and what the fuck is again that suggested by their surface forms; the who form applies to people, the what form to things. Presumably, other wh-question words such ashow, whyorwhencould also be used in such constructions with similar adjustments, although I have not encountered any examples.

When used sentence-initially, as in the examples above, the meaning implied by who/what the fuck is something like "why are things this way?" I will not attempt here to explicate the meaning of what the fuck when it is used independently as an exclamation, as in this example:

(56) Female, 22: But for the hundredth time that day I thought "What the fuck". (Australian Women's Forum #15, February 1993, p. 66)

The sentence-initial meaning may be explicated as follows:

(57) Who/what the fuck . . .

(a) I'm thinking about someone/something

(b) I know something about this person/thing

(c) I don't want this person/thing to be like this

(d) I feel something bad because of this

(e) I say: {Who/what the fuck . . .}

(f) People would say this is a very bad thing to say

(g) I say this because I want people to know I feel something about this

Components (b) and (c) convey the idea that the person or thing is being criticised for some particular aspect. Component (g) differs from the typical illocutionary purpose of emotive swearing, by constituting a general statement of emotion rather than saying precisely what the speaker feels. This makes the explication compatible with examples such as (b) above, where what is being criticised is somewhat inspecific.

4.3.7 I'm fucked

Allan & Burridge (1991:133) contains a brief discussion of the meaning of I'm fucked and related constructions:

Complaints like I'm fucked/shafted/rubber dicked/buggered mean "sorely mistreated; my hopes are dashed". The same expressions are used hyperbolically for "be tired".

It remains possible, however, that a single explication might be able to capture both meanings of I'm fucked. This seems desirable as there appears to be no structural difference between the two constructions, i.e. their meanings can only be disambiguated in context.

As I have not been able to collect a large number of examples of I'm fucked constructions, any explication of its meaning must be highly tentative. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the following explication captures both the relevant meanings in a single semantic structure:

(58) I'm fucked

(a) Something has happened to me

(b) I don't feel like I can do anything more because of this

(c) I didn't want this

(d) I feel something because of this

(d) I say: {I'm fucked}

(e) People would say this is a very bad thing to say

(f) I say this because I want to say how I feel

Component (b) is phrased in a sufficiently general way to account for a meaning of both exhaustion and inability to act. Similarly, while component (d) is phrased in a general way to allow for a feeling of either exhausation or annoyance, component (c), "I didn't want this", makes an interpretation of "bad feeling" slightly more likely. Note also that there again appears to be no direct sexual meaning involved in I'm fucked; while the post-coital situation may indeed be equally compatible with the notions of exhaustion or inability to act further, the general formulation above is quite compatible with this idea without requiring a specifically sexual interpretation in every instance.


The preceding discussion has demonstrated how the relationship between fuck (referential) and other, emotive fuck constructions is purely one of surface form. Expressions such as fuck you! clearly do not involve an element of sexuality in their meaning. This in fact seems even clearer in the case of fuck than it did with shit. It is simply not possible to predict the full range of uses from a single explication.

A more realistic possibility, however, is that emotive fuck constructions may be at least partly reducible to a common denominator. A tantalising hint that a common element of meaning binds the fuck constructions is the use of expressions containing fuck for expletive infixation in English, as briefly mentioned in Section 1.3. McMillan (1980) notes that the fuck, fucking and fucking-A can all be used in the English infixing process. This suggests that at least some component of meaning exists in common.

In fact, an examination of the explications proposed makes it clear that such an element does exist. The component

(59) I feel something bad because of this

can be found in every explication except those for fucking (adj) and I'm fucked, which contain

(60) I feel something because of this

Since the former component is a more specific version of the latter, it could be argued that the general incorporation of the notion of feeling is what makes such words suitable for infixing. The infixing process could then be conceived of as adding an "emotive comment" to the existing semantic material, and any term incorporating such a meaning could be used. Note that shit does not offer this universality; shit (emotive noun) is characterised in terms of saying rather than feeling, and hence there is not a unified meaning parameter (other than that of "saying something bad") across the range of shit constructions.

As infixing does not appear to be an especially common process in Australian English, I will not attempt to develop this argument further here. Nonetheless, this example does show how semantic explication can help to clarify what appears initially as a problem for morphology and phonology.

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