Theolinguists have long recognized the existence of the blaspheme (e.g. Aquinas 1270, Luther 1526, Calvin 1559). And it would be hard to improve on the classic formulation of Moses 1300 (b.c.e): “A blaspheme is the minimal unit of eternal damnation.”
Nevertheless, many theoretical and practical problems remain in blasphemic analysis
Even a theoretical model limited to surface structure will correctly label (1)
The issue here, of course, is that (2) also exists as an independent lexical entry for speakers who are unaware of its euphemistic origin, and (3) illustrates the perennial dichotomy between diachronic and synchronic analyses.
Insofar as blasphemology should be a theory of theolinguistic competence, any model must account for native reactions. How, then, does a speaker of English react to (2) and (3)? From the point of view of the hearer, there are three possibilities:
Possibility (a) presupposes ignorance of the relationship between God damn it and Gosh darn it and perceives Zounds as an unanalyzable entity met with in Elizabethan drama and the Late Late Movie. In other words, this interpretation sees (1), (2) and (3) as separate lexical items, neither blasphemes nor euphemes.
In contrast, possibilities (b) and (c) implicitly acknowledge a transformational history that is retrievable by the hearer. It follows, therefore, that the ability to recognize a eupheme is proof of the internalization of a blaspheme-
But a problem arises at this point because both the left and right members of (4) also exist as unrelated lexical entries, and (5) is no longer synchronically operational, except perhaps in the speech of lit majors. Thus, the actual blaspheme-
(Read: a blaspheme becomes a eupheme in front of a religious person.)