Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English. Language Library
This is the history of the lexical underworld of the English language. It details the story of impropriety in language and of the lower registers of the foul and obscene. From the earliest times swearing has existed in many variegated forms from the deadly curse to trivial expletives occasioned by annoyance. The book tells of the use of magic in primitive societies, of the binding oath of the Anglo-Saxon warrior and of blasphemy in the medieval age of faith. It describes how in the Renaissance swearing acquired a more secular idiom, and how the conflict between linguistic exuberance and official exuberance lasted up until modern times. There are also sections on the various types of abuse - racist and sexist among others.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"Excellent, non-prescriptive history." Literary Review "Erudite and splendidly researched book ... quite fascinating." Daily Telegraph "A provocative and stimulating book." Glasgow Herald "Professor Hughes shows real skill in handling the social history aspect of the book, blending theme and chronology into a digestive mixture." Punch