New corpus of latrinalia starting up

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I just learned via the mosling mailing list that a Russian team has established a multilingual corpus of toilet graffiti, which in their English language home page they call the Corpus of Latrinalia. I haven't looked at it and know nothing about it – I'm just reporting its existence. They have warnings on the front page that it contains obscenities "as well as racist and other insulting inscriptions", which do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of the corpus gatherers. But I find the project too amusing not to report.

And it was done with the support of the Russian Science Foundation. Good for them. ("them" – both.) Let's hope they get some good research out of it so that the RSF doesn't regret the decision and react badly to future non-standard proposals!


  1. Barbara Partee said,

    April 1, 2019 @ 8:59 pm

    Suddenly worried that since today is April 1 it could be a hoax. So I quick followed the link and did one tiny search and got a reasonable result; it does exist!

  2. Orin K Hargraves said,

    April 1, 2019 @ 9:57 pm

    If it's for real: someone please help them! I tried a search on lemma=suck, language=English, and it returned

    Search result: 0 sentence(s) found in approximately 0 document(s).

    But the search page looks legit. I don't think they've visited any Anglosphere bathrooms.

  3. Mike M said,

    April 2, 2019 @ 1:04 am

    To get a quick overview you can search for *; seems like the University of Helsinki had some English graffiti

  4. Chad Nilep said,

    April 2, 2019 @ 1:54 am

    My full text searches found 36 tokens of 'the' in the English tier and 62 occurrences of 'и' in Russian. The corpus must be rather small so far.

  5. Cervantes said,

    April 2, 2019 @ 9:36 am

    When I was in college (I won't admit how long ago that was . . . Okay, late '70s) there was a whole book of bathroom graffiti. I can't remember the name of it but it sold well. It was a legitimate project, they harvested samples from around the country. But it was popular, not scholarly. They did censor themselves to some extent, no racism that I can recall but plenty of scatology and mild obscenity.

  6. Ed said,

    April 2, 2019 @ 1:38 pm

    "And it was done with the support of the Russian Science Foundation. Good for them. ('them' – both.)"

    So, the Russian Science Foundation has just two members?

  7. Peter B. Golden said,

    April 2, 2019 @ 7:27 pm

    Considering that there is a serious Russian book devoted to the word хуй, one of the off-color terms for the membrum virile, the existence of such a site is not surprising. Russian Мат (an all-purpose term covering obscene language) is extensive, much richer than English and often quite clever.

  8. Simon Cauchi said,

    April 4, 2019 @ 4:59 pm

    Just in case anyone is in doubt about the word's pronunciation, note this couplet from a limerick by Bowra:

    He would titivate shyly
    His membrum virile

  9. Rodger C said,

    April 5, 2019 @ 6:48 am

    Did Bowra also rhyme "urinal" with "final"?

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