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I've always been a fan of micro-histories that explore language or aspects of culture. Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing was a fascinating trip through what many today think is a recent phenomenon. Mohr sets the record straight, however, with a discussion of Ancient Rome and their use of language which shared much with the current way we use obscene words and how we swear. She then brings us through the history of the English language (with a few other European languages thrown in for comparison) and the British and American cultures.
Mohr does a great job of illustrating how our concepts of swearing are related to those larger societal concepts such as religion, privacy, class, and shame. Her examples come from law, literature, and other documents as well as more contemporary media such as film, television and radio. (Yes, George Carlin and Rhett Butler are in here...) She also puts to bed some myths about word origins including a famous one for the F word and one for Sh*t.
An entertaining and enlightening read - especially for someone like me who enjoys using a colorful range of expletives.
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Very informative and entertaining! The ideas a culture deems taboo tell you a lot about it.