An Encyclopedia of Swearing: The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English-speaking World

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M.E. Sharpe, Jan 1, 2006 - Business & Economics - 573 pages
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This is the only encyclopedia and social history of swearing and foul language in the English-speaking world. It covers the various social dynamics that generate swearing, foul language, and insults in the entire range of the English language. While the emphasis is on American and British English, the different major global varieties, such as Australian, Canadian, South African, and Caribbean English are also covered. A-Z entries cover the full range of swearing and foul language in English, including fascinating details on the history and origins of each term and the social context in which it found expression. Categories include blasphemy, obscenity, profanity, the categorization of women and races, and modal varieties, such as the ritual insults of Renaissance "flyting" and modern "sounding" or "playing the dozens." Entries cover the historical dimension of the language, from Anglo-Saxon heroic oaths and the surprising power of medieval profanity, to the strict censorship of the Renaissance and the vibrant, modern language of the streets. Social factors, such as stereotyping, xenophobia, and the dynamics of ethnic slurs, as well as age and gender differences in swearing are also addressed, along with the major taboo words and the complex and changing nature of religious, sexual, and racial taboos.

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Review: An Encyclopedia of Swearing

User Review  - Ryan Mclaughlin - Goodreads

As good as its title implies. It would have won an additional star if it was better organized. Its entries varied in focus. Read full review

Contents

Abbreviations
3
Barbarian
18
Canada
55
Copyright

48 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2006)

Geoffrey Hughes is Professor of the History of the English Language at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. A graduate of Oxford University, he has held academic and research posts at Cape Town, Harvard and Turin. His main interests are in historical semantics and sociolinguistics on which he has written over twenty papers and two books, "Words in Time" (Blackwell, 1988) and "Swearing" (Blackwell, 1991). He is a consultant for the Collins Dictionaries on South African English and has been editor of the journal "English Studies" in Africa.

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