Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing

A Five Star Pick

Holy ShitLeaping lemurs, Batman! I didn’t know there could be so much meaning in a word, or more pointedly, a swear word.  Mohr gives us an education when it comes to the history of swearing.  Who knew that it went hand in hand with lavatories, even in ancient times?  In fact, swearing is one of the vital outlets for humans—which we need to do, in order to deal with anger or pain.  We are shown how swearing has been around since the beginning of time (including The Bible) and how the words changed from being obscene to “not a big deal”, then right back to being taboo (depending on the era).  Basically, the evolution of swearing is not only very interesting but entertaining and it will make you think twice the next time you do utter a profanity.  Almost no subject is left alone: swear words affect people’s lives tremendously—from literature to law to science.  I learned about religious oaths, society’s views of bodily functions and racial slurs.  Did you know there is even a link between swearing and privacy?  Can you believe that at one time, saying the word “trousers” or “leg” was blasphemous?  As society changes and gets used to them, forbidden words may even lose their ammunition as time goes by.  Maybe the f-word will become a regularity (as it already seems to me) and another word will become sacrilegious.  It is necessary to note how Mohr says that it is important to swear during certain moments (no matter what education you have had), for it may diffuse a situation that otherwise could have resorted to physical violence.  I only wish that this were true.  There is still a lot of aggression and bombs and guns.  I don’t know about you but I would rather take a harsh word than a bullet any day.  That being said, I still think swearing should be reserved for one’s personal reasons and not be used to lash out at anyone else.  Everyone should pick this book up—you will learn way more than you expected.


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