Diet of porridge and gruel shaped human faces, which diversified English language
The texts of the 16th century were first to record the F-word for posterity. It appeared in William Dunbar’s poem A Brash of Wowing in 1503 and later, thanks to an angry monk, in a note scrawled in the margin of a 1528 copy of De Officiis, Cicero’s moral manifesto.
But according to researchers, the English language might never have enjoyed a richness of F-words had it not been for early farmers and the food processing they favoured. Dairy products and other soft foods, such as gruel, porridge, soup and stews, helped shape our faces, the researchers claim, and allowed us to form the sounds “f” and “v”, known as labiodental fricatives.