Snowflake, elite, expert . . . What are today's 'bad words' and what do they say about us, both as individuals and as a society?
Once upon a time, the worst words you could utter were short, simple and tended to be four letters in length. Now things are more complicated. To be insulted as a 'snowflake' or an 'expert' is arguably worse than being called a **** or a **** or even a ****.
So what are today's 'bad words' and how are they different from yesterday's taboo expressions? This entertaining guide to the shifting sands of bad language is indispensable in an increasingly divided world in which abuse becomes ever more widespread and vituperative.
Philip Gooden shows how and why taboo words and contentious expressions, including those four-letter ones, were first used in English. He discusses the ways such words have changed over the years and explores how a single syllable or two may possess an almost magical power to offend, distress or infuriate.
BAD WORDS investigates the most controversial and provocative words in the English language in a way that is both anecdotal and analytical. Combining intrigue and scandal, the book delves into expressions connected to religion, ethnicity, nationality, politics, swearing and oaths, and includes contemporary issues like political correctness and elitism.
". . . while the low-hanging sound of 'bollocks' seems to imitate the thing it describes." If that low-hanging sound is music to your ears, Bad Words has plenty. - Times Literary Supplement
PHILIP GOODEN is a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford. He writes books about language as well as historical crime novels. The former include Who's Whose? A No-Nonsense Guide to Easily-Confused Words, The Story of English, and (as co-author) Idiomantics and The Word at War. He has been nominated for a CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.