Daily Archives: June 4, 2010


Ever wonder how some of the more colorful words and phrases in the English language made their way into our lexicon? In yet one more proof that libraries contain credible information on everything, here’s a short list of good books about bad language:

Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English, Geoffrey Hughes.

The Anatomy of Swearing, Ashley Montagu

Blue Streak, Richard Dooling.

Expletive Deleted, Ruth Wajnyrb.

There are also a number of books and materials specifically dedicated to what Ralphie, the plucky hero of A Christmas Story, calls “the queen mother of dirty words”:

Christopher Fairman’s book examines cursing in light of the First Amendment…

…while Jessie Sheidlower’s collection, The F-Word, takes the history/etymology route, in copious detail.

Those of you who prefer film will find the same topic treated documentary-style in F**k, which includes commentary from Steven Bochco, Pat Boone, and Hunter S. Thompson.

Gee whiz!

Learning about the roots of naughty words might not be everybody’s cup of tea, so if none of the items in today’s blog post appealed to you, there will be a whole fresh crop of books and things to consider Monday.  If, however, you are besotted with words and languages, I swear — er, promise — you’ll always be able to indulge your curiosity at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

–Leigh Anne

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