Dear Gentle Reader

The late George Carlin achieved notoriety in the ‘seventies with his comedy routine entitled, “Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on  Television”. (see also the 40th anniversary tribute in the Atlantic Magazine ) While dialogue in novels has been salty for much longer, it seems as though in the last few years I am seeing more coarse language in the titles of books.  You may recall the bestselling bedtime story satire where a tired parent pleads for his child to go the  **** to sleep. By my rough count, since the turn of the millennium, the library acquired 7 works with the F bomb (or variants) and 14 items using synonyms for excrement on the front covers.

Recently I read IN PRAISE OF PROFANITY by Michael Adams.   He considers the differences between cursing, swear words, profanity and more generally vulgar language, which in the European and North American context contains an overlay of class distinction.  Linguistic analysis tends to be rather dry, but the author offers interesting musings on which combinations of consonants and vowels make the most satisfying expletives.  Adams also contends that substituting symbols for some letters in potentially offensive words is just a coy diversion that fools only ourselves, as anyone can easily recognize the profanity behind the veiling.  For discussion of the state of modern society which leaves many of us frequently tired, exasperated and angry, and therefore more prone to vulgarity we will need to look elsewhere.

For those who enjoy works on popular culture or language use.

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