Fuck You is not a Verb

Eine Arbeit von James D. McCawley unter dem Pseudonym Quang Phuc Dong vom South Hanoi Institute of Technology über „English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subjects“. McCawley „created the interdisciplinary field of pornolinguistics and scatolinguistics virtually on his own“. Seinen Doktor machte McCawley übrigens unter Noam Chomsky.

there are sentences containing the word fuck which are ambiguous between a meaning parallel to [sentences that have no overt grammatical subject] and a meaning parallel to [Fuck You]: (25) Fuck Lyndon Johnson. This sentence can be interpreted either as an admonition to copulate with Lyndon Johnson or as an epithet indicating disapproval of that individual but conveying no instruction to engage in sexual relations with him. When sentences with the embeddings and adjuncts of (4) to (11) and (20) are formed, the resulting sentences allow only the former of these readings:

(12a) I said to fuck Lyndon Johnson.
(13a) Don’t fuck Lyndon Johnson.
(14a) Do fuck Lyndon Johnson.
(15a) Please fuck Lyndon Johnson.
(16a) Fuck Lyndon Johnson, won’t you?
(17a) Go fuck Lyndon Johnson.
(18a) Fuck Lyndon Johnson or I’ll take away your teddy-bear.
(19a) Fuck Lyndon Johnson and I’ll give you a dollar.
(20a) Fuck Lyndon Johnson and wash the dishes.

Consideration of these examples makes it fairly clear that the fuck of (12a)-(20a) (henceforth fuck1) and the fuck of [Fuck You] (henceforth fuck2) are two distinct homophonous lexical items. These two lexical items have totally different selectional restrictions, as is shown by the examples:

(26) Fuck these irregular verbs.
(27) *John fucked these irregular verbs.
(28) Fuck communism.
(29) *John fucked communism.

Moreover, fuck2 has a peculiar restriction on the determiner of the following noun phrase, a restriction not shared by fuck1, namely that the determiner must be either definite or generic ...

(30) Fuck these seven irregular verbs.
(31) Fuck irregular verbs.
(32) Fuck all irregular verbs.
(33) *Fuck seven irregular verbs.
(34) *Fuck any irregular verb.

... but,

(35) Fuck seven old ladies by midnight or I’ll take away your teddy-bear.
(36) Fuck any old lady you see.

(The latter two involving fuck1). It should be noted that the word “generic” must be interpreted in a sense such that all is generic (cf. example (32)) but each is not: (37) *Fuck each irregular verb.

Indeed, substitution into the frame “Fuck____irregular verb(s)” is an excellent diagnostic test for genericness. As example (35) makes clear, the two fucks also differ in their potential for co-occurring with adverbial elements; while (35) is normal, (38) *Fuck you by midnight. is not.

English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subjects (via Futility Closet)