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Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language Hardcover – Jul 5 2005


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Informative and fun at the same time! Jan. 10 2013
By James - Published on Amazon.com
This book appealed to me on two levels. On the more adult level, I have always been interested in linguistics and etymology. I am endlessly fascinated by the science of how languages interact, how they evolve, the history of words, etc. On the slightly more juvenile level, I was entertained by the notion of learning as much as possible about four letter words.

I would argue there is still something noble about that juvenile side of ourselves, however. I remember getting into arguments with my parents at a fairly young age over why some words were considered “dirty” while others weren’t. Why was it okay to say I had to “poop” but not okay to say I had to “s***”? Why was it okay for couples to have “intercourse” but not “f***?” I love my parents and both of them are pretty amazing people, but their answers never satisfied me. The concept of swearing or cussing just didn’t make sense. So my interest in cursing was more than just snickering with friends over the F-word in the dictionary or trying to test my parents’ patience. It was about words, what they mean, how they evolved, and understanding their power.

Ruth Wajnryb does an excellent job probing this issue. She highlights all of the most obvious offensive words (F-word, C-word, “blasphemy,” etc.). She examines the subtle differences between swearing, cursing, blasphemy, expletives, obscenity, and profanity (did you know they’re all technically different?). She focuses both on the individual words themselves and the cultures in which they arose. She discusses why we cuss and how different cultures cultivate their swearing.

The best part of the book is that–even as an accomplished linguist–Wajnryb pulls it off without making it read like a textbook. This is highly engaging, funny, and accessible to the lay reader. If ever you have longed to learn more about dirty words, now is your chance. Appease your inner child and learn something in the process.
ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! April 28 2013
By Jessica Pettitt - Published on Amazon.com
[...]

This is the best book ever! I found this gem at a small book store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when dodging heavy rain. There she was, flirting with me. As a professional speaker, I often am challenged about the use of "bad language" in my workshops and speeches. Even more regularly, a participant will inform me that I am using words or phrases that often offend people yet they don't find themselves offended.

Language is fascinating and the building blocks of my career. I find myself making judgments and assumptions about particular campuses, participants, etc., on the walk from my rental car to the venue about how much "bad language" is appropriate or not. There are venues where I purposely carefully choose my words and others where I feel more comfortable speaking as I would normally. I don't use "bad language" to appeal to the younger crowd (yes, I have actually been asked this many times). I use "bad language" because that is how I talk, how many family spoke, and what I am used to doing when I want to express myself. The question is why? What makes good language good and bad language bad?

As Wajnryb states in the subtitle, Expletive Deleted is an in-depth review linguistically and anthropologically of the use of words throughout a mostly western historical perspective. I loved this book. Cussing, swearing, and blasphemy, are complicated characters in a humorous and dramatic soap opera involving the Catholic Church, wars, politics, and geography. I now know why the language I use is considered "bad" and feel even more justified in my word choices. :-) I will continue to monitor the impact of my language choices, AND giggle knowing that my words are themselves a form of activism.

Jessica Pettitt is the "diversity educator" your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:


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11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Wajnryb should have her word processor washed out with soap. Aug. 5 2005
By Chris McGlothlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
But this book is one f***ing good read!


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