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

By Geoffrey Hughes

This is often the one encyclopedia and social background of swearing and foul language within the English-speaking international. It covers many of the social dynamics that generate swearing, foul language, and insults within the whole variety of the English language. whereas the emphasis is on American and British English, the several significant worldwide kinds, comparable to Australian, Canadian, South African, and Caribbean English also are coated. A-Z entries hide the complete variety of swearing and foul language in English, together with interesting info at the historical past and origins of every time period and the social context during which it came across expression. different types contain blasphemy, obscenity, profanity, the categorization of girls and races, and modal forms, corresponding to the ritual insults of Renaissance "flyting" and glossy "sounding" or "playing the dozens." Entries disguise the historic size of the language, from Anglo-Saxon heroic oaths and the astonishing strength of medieval profanity, to the stern censorship of the Renaissance and the colourful, glossy language of the streets. Social components, similar to stereotyping, xenophobia, and the dynamics of ethnic slurs, in addition to age and gender transformations in swearing also are addressed, in addition to the key taboo phrases and the advanced and altering nature of non secular, sexual, and racial taboos.

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

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Press, 1964. 11 ASS/ARSE ASS/ARSE These two terms are now phonetic variants, in American and British English respectively, of the ancient word for the backside, fundament, posteriors, or buttocks, animal or human. This part of the anatomy and its emissions are, of course, a fruitful area for vituperation. Arse, derived from late Anglo-Saxon ears, was in common use up to the eighteenth century, the medlar fruit having been called the open-ears from the earliest times. Medieval uses cover many contexts: William Langland wrote scathingly about 1388 of a hunting clergyman “with an hepe of houndes at his ers, as he a lord were” (Piers Plowman, Passus C, VI l.

Partridge, Eric. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970. 24 BLACKS No group of Americans has been more denigrated by ethnic slur than blacks. In this poster from the 1866 Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign, the image of a thoughtful young white man symbolizes the candidate’s white-supremacist platform, while the caricature of a black man represents his opponent’s “Negro suffrage” platform. (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-32498) BLACKS Given the cultural histories of the dominant English-speaking communities, black people have consistently been seen as outsiders.

See also: Asseveration. AUSTRALIA Of all the global varieties of English, the Australian is most noted for the liberal use of swearing and profane language. This is, no doubt, a reflection of the nature of the founding population, which was made up principally of 160,000 convicts, very unlike the Pilgrim Fathers of the United States. W. Haygarth commented in now-familiar terms on Antipodean verbal fashions: “Profane swearing prevails throughout the interior of New South Wales to 13 AUSTRALIA an extent hardly conceivable but by those who have actually witnessed it” (Bush Life in Australia 1848, cited in Hornadge 1980, 134).

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