Front Cover
Hodder & Stoughton, Sep 16, 2010 - History - 300 pages
1 Review

We say a lot about ourselves by what we don't say.

Words and phrases like 'collateral damage', 'wardrobe malfunction', 'vertically challenged', and old favourites like 'unmentionables' (trousers, apparently) or 'lady of the night' - all are ways of not using particular words. UNMENTIONABLES is a rollicking exploration of the history of euphemistic usage, looking at how taboos connected to sex, death, religion, war, politics, business and matters of status have produced an extraordinary linguistic creativity, and how euphemistic speech has changed over the centuries. It looks at how euphemisms are born, and how they die (or 'experience a negative outcome') and it explores why it is that we create euphemisms, and the different purposes - from the benign to the sinister - that they serve. (Is 'euphemism' a euphemism for lying?)

Lively, entertaining, and crammed with fascinating nuggets of information, UNMENTIONABLES is a celebration of the richness of language. Why have just one word for something when you can have ten other words instead?

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - seldombites - LibraryThing

This was an incredibly interesting book on the reasons and motivation behind humanities constant urge to euphemize. It was particularly interesting to learn just how old are some of today's euphemisms ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2010)

Ralph Keyes is the author of fifteen books. IS THERE LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL? was made into a Broadway musical that has been produced around the world. CHANCING IT was a New York Times 'Notable Nook'. Keyes has appeared on Oprah Winfrey, The Tonight Show, and is a frequent guest on NPR radio shows.

Bibliographic information