An Encyclopedia of Swearing: The Social History of Oaths, by Geoffrey Hughes

By Geoffrey Hughes

This can be the single encyclopedia and social historical past of swearing and foul language within the English-speaking global. It covers some of the social dynamics that generate swearing, foul language, and insults within the whole diversity of the English language. whereas the emphasis is on American and British English, different significant worldwide types, corresponding to Australian, Canadian, South African, and Caribbean English also are coated. A-Z entries disguise the total variety of swearing and foul language in English, together with interesting info at the heritage and origins of every time period and the social context during which it chanced on expression. different types contain blasphemy, obscenity, profanity, the categorization of ladies and races, and modal types, equivalent to the ritual insults of Renaissance "flyting" and glossy "sounding" or "playing the dozens." Entries hide the historic measurement of the language, from Anglo-Saxon heroic oaths and the mind-blowing energy of medieval profanity, to the stern censorship of the Renaissance and the colourful, sleek language of the streets. Social elements, resembling stereotyping, xenophobia, and the dynamics of ethnic slurs, in addition to age and gender changes in swearing also are addressed, in addition to the foremost taboo phrases and the complicated and altering nature of spiritual, sexual, and racial taboos.

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

Example text

A. A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1990. BAWDY Bawdy, meaning “naughty, sexually suggestive or obscene talk or behavior,” derives from bawd, a medieval term for a procurer, later a procuress of prostitutes. The term, recorded from the early sixteenth century, is essentially rooted in the underworld and its coded speech, 19 BAWDY double-entendres or sexual puns, current in bawdy houses or brothels. ” Bawdry was an earlier, now obsolete relative, defined by Dr.

K. Anglo-Saxon Poetry. Everyman’s Library. London: Dent, 1954. Mitchell, Bruce. An Invitation to Old English. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995. Tacitus, Cornelius. Tacitus on Britain and Germany. Trans. H. Mattingly. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964. ” This equation of the most powerful swearwords with the most ancient word-stock is strictly a misconception, at best a half-truth, although it continues to be found in both learned and popular usage. S. federal judge, Frederick van Pelt Bryan, handed down a judgment in favor of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, noting that “Four-letter Anglo-Saxon words are used with some frequency” (cited in Craig 1962, 158).

It is a speculation that the consonants “b” and “f,” which are, respectively, bilabial plosives and bilabial fricatives, offer an effective vehicle for emotive release because of the physical release of air. As Otto Jespersen noted appositely of the others nearly a century ago: “Thus we have here a whole family of words with an initial d, allowing the speaker to begin as if he were going to say the prohibited word, and then turn off into more innocent channels” (1962, 229). See also: Flyting; Rhyme.

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