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Classical Swearing: A Vade-Mecum

"You might expect the Greeks who supposedly had a word for everything (actually they didn’t: no noun for “orgasm”, though one supposes they did have them) and the Romans (likewise lacking a term for “suicide”, despite all that falling on swords in Shakespeare) with their reputation for plain speaking would not line up with the American Indians, Japanese, Malayans, and Polynesians who do not curse but rather with those many cultures in which - as Geoffrey Hughes puts it in his book of that name - “Swearing is fascinating in its protean diversity and poetic creativity, while being simultaneously shocking in its ugliness and cruelty. It draws upon such powerful and incongruous resonators as religion, sex, madness, excretion, and nationality, upon an extraordinary variety of attitudes including the violent, the shocking, the absurd, and the impossible.” ..."

Author(s):  Baldwin, Barry
Format:  Article
Publisher:  ShatterColors Literary Review
Source:  ShatterColors Literary Review