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Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of Language
Many words and expressions are viewed as 'taboo', such as those used to describe sex, our bodies and their functions, and those used to insult other people. This 2006 book provides a fascinating insight into taboo language and its role in everyday life. It looks at the ways we use language to be polite or impolite, politically correct or offensive, depending on whether we ...more
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Cambridge University Press
(first published August 31st 2006)
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I have had a long interest in linguistics--especially the practices of swearing, euphemism, and politeness--so I picked up Forbidden Words with excitement. Unfortunately, while there are interesting nuggets of information, the book is rendered unreadable and untrustworthy by the authors' political and personal biases. To give a simple example, in the chapter on jargon, the authors write, "There is no convenient substitute for some jargon: to replace legalese defendant with a person against whom ...more
An interesting book about just what the title says. When it says censoring, though, it mostly means self-censoring. It spends a little bit of time on official censoring, but not much, which is good. One thing this book doesn't lack for is examples. In fact, sometimes, it's downfall is that it spends too much time giving examples and not enough time with analysis. The chapter on words relating to sex was particularly perplexing to me for it almost seemed in a different style from the rest. Usuall ...more
laffin @ the old man review below this one ranting and raving about some stupid shit about pavement (not the band although that would be funny too). my main beef is that it's almost entirely descriptive and while its cool to get examples of rare cases where orthophemisms/euphemisms/dysphemisms (urine / weewee / piss) are contained w/in the same word depending on context, like Jesus Christ (louis ck talked about this too in episode of iremember, "jesus christ this is a big pumpkin") it doesn't pl ...more