I love swearing.
There. It’s out there.
In nearly every other way I am very professional librarian: I got the old business casual down to a science, I do my work in an efficient and organized manner, I read Library Journal, American Libraries and Booklist. Clearly I am the picture of excitement.
Yet I have the mouth of a drunken sailor. There is something so very, very satisfying about a perfectly placed cuss word. I’m also all about putting two bad words together and creating a whole new, fabulous swear word (this happens a lot when I drive.) I tried to curb my cursing by putting a quarter in a cup every time I dropped an f-bomb. By the end of the day I had enough to go to Piper’s Pub for a nice lunch. I gave up, decided to embrace my foul mouth and hope I don’t swear too much around kids.
Imagine my joy when I discovered this article at Salon.com. How, with my great love of profanity, have I never read about the history of bad language? I immediately ordered Melissa Mohr’s new book, Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, and I was on my way!
As every reader knows, that led down a rabbit hole of information and before you knew it, this happened:
Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English, Geoffrey Hughes
Chosen as a Book of the Year by The Observer, reviewer Valentine Cunningham called Swearing a “deliciously filthy trawl among taboo words across the ages and the globe.” Interesting fact: The definition of efflorescence. (This book is a bit, uh, dry.)
The Anatomy of Swearing, Ashley Montagu
Written by a social biologist, The Anatomy of Swearing was written in 1967 so it’s a bit dated. I suspect Ashley Montagu never would have imagined her local librarian freely yelling the f-word in traffic. Interesting fact: People swear more when they are relaxed and happy.
The F-Word, edited by Jesse Sheidlower (former editor of the OED, so you know he’s good.)
This book speaks to me on so many levels! It’s an encyclopedia of various forms of the f-word. Alas, I am sad to report that several words I thought I made up have been in use for hundreds of years. Interesting fact: The earliest known publication of the f-word in the United States was actually in a legal case involving slander and a horse. My mother reads this blog, so you’ll have to look it up yourself.
Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language, Ruth Wajnryb
Expletive Deleted is an idiosyncratic romp through swearing history. Wajnryb obviously loves language(s) and studies not only English cursing, but goes global! She also makes a decent argument that we swear because we can’t just slug people. Interesting fact: I am dysphemistic, in that I deliberately use an offensive word in place of a more neutral one.
For fun: Shakespearean cussing!
suzy, who is proud of herself for not swearing once in this whole post!