Friday, September 30, 2011

An Encyclopedia of Swearing

An Encyclopedia of Swearing:
The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, And Ethnic Slurs in the English-speaking World
by Geoffrey Hughes (2006)

“History of Modern Colloquial English, published in 1920, included a half-page discussion about a slang term without ever mentioning it. The word? Bloody, a term considered so taboo at that time that it couldn't even be mentioned in abook on lexicography. More than 80 years later, one can barely escape hearing more-graphic taboo terms on cable television and in the movies or reading them in highbrow publications such as the New Yorker.
Hughes, a South African English professor, has compiled a fascinating reference work on the history, sociology, and literary uses of foul language and profanity. Alphabetically arranged by topic, the work covers, in addition to terms themselves, a wide range of subjects and individuals: Ethnic insults; Hollywood; Medieval period; Political correctness; and Twain, Mark--to name only a few. The index provides access to words that are not entry headings. Engagingly written and diligently researched, the entries provide helpful information to both lay readers and scholars and include useful bibliographies. The work also offers superb ready-reference information on hard-to-find arcane information, for example, the first time a slang term for copulation was uttered on British television, major dictionaries that include or don't include profane terms, and the case name and citation number of the FCC decision about George Carlin's controversial "Filthy Words" broadcast in 1973.
This work is highly recommended for academic and major public libraries. The steep price, however, may dissuade purchase by other libraries, especially if they already own the much more affordable (although now out-of-print) dictionary Wicked Words, by Hugh Rawson.” – Donald Altschiller

pp. 573; 12 Mb; PDF in RAR

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