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English as a Second F*cking Language: How to Swear Effectively, Explained in Detail With Numerous Examples Taken from Everyday Life
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English as a Second F*cking Language: How to Swear Effectively, Explained in Detail With Numerous Examples Taken from Everyday Life

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  414 ratings  ·  49 reviews
America swears by it!

In the English language, swearing is essential to effective communication. Whether you want to succeed in business, school, or social circles, a strong command of vocabulary is absolutely necessary. Just imagine a stranger to our shores, trying to comprehend the following conversation:

John: Mary, would you like to attend the opera this evening?
Mary: F
Paperback, 96 pages
Published June 15th 1996 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published June 1996)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  414 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Start your review of English as a Second F*cking Language: How to Swear Effectively, Explained in Detail With Numerous Examples Taken from Everyday Life
Himanshu Karmacharya
Hilarious and informative for all the wrong reasons, this book teaches native as well as foreign users of the English language, the ways of efficient swearing.

Of course it was the title of the book that got my attention and I read it out of curiosity. The book is extremely funny and had me laughing many times but reading the book continuously for some time, it tends to get repetitive. So I had to put the book down for a while, but reading it again didn't have the same effect as before.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Ok, I was curious. Thank goodness it was less than a hundred pages, so not too much of a waste of time. Amusing, but could have been a lot funnier. Tried to be (pretend)helpful, but could have been a lot more so. It's not really sufficient to explain what the words mean if you don't explain the grammar... but that's just the ex-student of linguistics talking. ...more
Alex Telander
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Warning: this review contains graphic language.

While not new to publishing (release in 1996), this book is a necessary swear word compendium for any English lover. Author Sterling Johnson, a professor who has been teaching English as a second language for over twenty years, brings us a complete breakdown of swearing in the English language: each chapter begins with the particular swear word, gives a rundown of the various forms it may be used in, as well as full examples of how specifically to u
Sep 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: ESL teachers to assist students learning with the finer points of vulgarity
I believe my mom bought me English as a Second F*cking Language: How to Swear Effectively, Explained in Detail with Numerous Examples Taken From Everyday Life for me at some point (which seems appropriate, as I inherited my tendency to curse like a sailor when angry or frustrated from her.) I picked it up this time so I could claim to have finished at least one book in the past two weeks!

Written more or less as a straight language instruction guide, Johnson explores the usages of the Universal
Cathy Douglas
Mar 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference-books
I cherry-picked this handy little reference volume while sorting library sale books. Real-life swearing doesn't make use of anywhere near the full spectrum of possibilities, and this book will bring new life to anyone's vocabulary. Between this book and the Urban Dictionary, one has access to a veritable thesaurus of the profane. Why merely "beat meat" when you can "choke the chicken"? How else does one know it's cool to "eat," but skanky to "eat the weenie"? Where else can one find all the vari ...more
Roland Volz
Oct 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: language
A thin book, this covers the "seven words you can't say on television" and somewhat more. Each term is highlighted, defined in proper dictionary style, synonyms are given and explored, and examples and counter-examples are considered for the differences between men and women. The book's title is exactly right: if you learned English as a second language, and all the primary English-speakers you know are too proper to talk to you about swear words, then this is the essential book for you. I'm goi ...more
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not as exhaustive as other texts, this book's author really screwed the pooch on this one. (Coincidentally, you will not find that phrase in the book but rather 'fucking the dog.')

An excellent primer for those who have never watched television or interacted with an English-speaking human before. Otherwise, it will not add to the etymologist's library.

The book screams 'Rush job' with its barebones intro, dust jacket and contents. I have not seen more generously spaced pages since teaching freshma
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
At times outrageously funny, at other times perplexing; some of the phrasing was dated. (Boob is a confusing word because it can mean "tit" or "a dumb person"? Has anyone actually been called a "boob" since the advent of color television?) Also, the book wasn't quite as exhaustive as I'd like: he missed plenty of colorful phrases like the English "take the piss out of" and, despite a lengthy listing of euphemisms related to masturbation, he inexplicably failed to include "spank the monkey." ...more
Oct 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You can utterly respect the author's intent of sincerity, and in fact, covers the topic at hand effectively. But, as an American, and reading the British take on swearing to non-english speakers... This book is fantastically funny.

And, you'll be sure next time you need to swear, you'll be syntactically correct!
May 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, read-2011
You'd think with that title that it would be better than it was. I thought it was sort basic and elementary, and frankly, there were a lot of really great swears left out. As it turns out, this is "beginner swearing" - I kid you not, and it's definitely evident when you read it. It was ok...I've come up with (much) better swears myself, and much more creative usage. ...more
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
It goes without saying that this is a book that I really should read.
Mar 10, 2017 marked it as to-read
Hopefully this gosh darn book can help me out!
Lukas Vermeer
Mildly funny shit at best and too fucking incomplete.
Marshall Thompson
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not what I expected. This is a scholarly study of Swear Words, terms, and there uses. Still, it was HILLARIOUS!
Daniel Rodriguez
It might be of some real use to, well, those who have taken English as a second language, but something felt lacking even for that.
Lyuba Pachoma
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Curious book with many useful and unknown expressions :-D
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Johnson's stated purpose in authoring this work was to provide an educational resource for those who speak English as something other than a primary language. While the book feigns instruction, it really simply uses instruction as a medium for humor. There are some comical quips inside, but the vast overuse of alliteration and homonyms exploited for humor quickly grow old. Readers should be aware that actual value in this book is minimal. If you read it, understand that your main takeaway will b ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Now I know what they’re saying in “The Sopranos” and “Deadwood”! Actually, this was a fun little read if you’re not easily offended. It basically expands on George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on TV. A tongue-in-cheek primer for swearing.
Apr 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2020
I don't know if my expections were too high but... This was terrible. Absolutely terrible and I wasted 30 minutes (!) of my life reading this. Sucks. ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it liked it
It was a fun book to read, but some of the language is very dated. I have never once heard of a person being called "ass-eyes." ...more
This one was given to me by friends who'd heard a lot of stories about weird things that would come up in the course of teaching advanced ESL classes. I wouldn't really recommend this book to actual's more a novelty item, it's not all that complete, and it's pretty crass. But it IS funny! ...more
Sep 03, 2010 rated it liked it
I finished this a while back. It's entertaining enough, but of course there's something a little mind-numbing about reading an entire book--or, since I'm an idiot, two entire books in a row--about swearing. I also don't really like scatological swear words so that was sort of annoying to me. But the section on the word "fuck" is worth the price of admission. ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
I think I was expecting more from this than what I got - I wanted it to be a true grammar and vocab book, not just a random listing of more or less useful swear words ("ass eyes," really?). Frankly, I learned more from watching Boondock Saints and spending a night in an Irish pub during the World Cup than I did from this book. Disappointing, and not even that funny. ...more
Cannonhistory Potter
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this a couple of years ago and nearly wet myself...quick read, requires nothing more than a suspension of normal sensativities. Think how funny this would be if it actually served as a language immersion book for ESL folk.
Willa Guadalupe Grant
Oct 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I just re-read this book. I could be dying & this book would make me laugh- it is laid out just like any other language guide which makes it all the more hysterical. I am sure this proves my immaturity rather than how f*ckin funny this book is.
Nov 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: laughs
Not a book to be taken seriously (at least, not in this reviewer's humble opinion), this slender volume was the source of much mirth to my entire circle of friends. A taboo-free primer on the bluer shades of the English languages. ...more
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
An in depth exploration of the intricate and subtle rules of swearing effectively in the English language. It's detailed outlines provide a treasure chest of writing devices for the more than status quo fucking writer. ...more
Steve Mitchell
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Swearing is not as simple as you may think. Just peppering your language with expletives is not big and it is not clever; you need to be economical and select the right word for the situation. This book will help you learn to utter profanities with confidence.
F*ing funny. As I learned my English from American college kids, I already knew almost all the words and expressions in this little book, but it's still entertaining as it's written in a very humorous way. ...more
Willa Guadalupe Grant
This is the funniest book ever! I could have just found out I was dying & I would laugh when I read this book. It is written just like any other phrase book but it is "profanity" & how to use it correctly. An abosolute gem for those of us who are still immature. ;-) ...more
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Sterling Johnson--pseudonym of California writer Jeffrey Whitmore--is the author of the St. Martin's Press bestseller ENGLISH AS A SECOND F*CKING LANGUAGE ("Great f*cking book!"--Stephen King) and WATCH YOUR F*CKING LANGUAGE ("One of those rare smart and funny books."--Penn Jillette).

Whitmore is also the author of the 55-word classic "Bedtime Story" ("rather wonderful"--The Cambridge Introduction

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