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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filthy English: The how, why, when and what of everyday swearing.
Absolutely fascinating book. Full of very detailed descriptions of how certain words originated and what seemingly inoccuous words they are contected to. There is so much information packed into this book that I'm only reading about four pages a night - it is so enjoyable as well. It's not a light or silly read - more quite a serious look at language with some light...
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by Penny Lane

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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars (Un)hilariously self-important
As someone who is fascinated by language in general, and certainly partial to the odd choice expression, this was a book I approached with great anticipation. The opening lines (available to view as a preview) promised a personal and witty account of the author's journey through the subject matter, and I was primed to suck up interesting insight into the history and...
Published on 19 April 2012 by BigMalc


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filthy English: The how, why, when and what of everyday swearing., 13 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing (Paperback)
Absolutely fascinating book. Full of very detailed descriptions of how certain words originated and what seemingly inoccuous words they are contected to. There is so much information packed into this book that I'm only reading about four pages a night - it is so enjoyable as well. It's not a light or silly read - more quite a serious look at language with some light hearted digressions. The sections which explain puns from Shakespeare, Marvell and other writers are brilliant! Suitable for those people who are genuinely interested in how language originated rather than for those looking for a cheap thrill. I thoroughly recommend it!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb insight into the evolution of modern insults!, 1 Aug 2011
This review is from: Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing (Paperback)
I was drawn to this book purely for the cover, I was intrigued to know its contents and, not normally my genre of reading, however I decided to take a chance. I am glad I did this was a really fascinating read I loved (nearly!) every page on it. Certainly not for the faint-hearted!! There is no shying away from the more explicit words or explainations for their origins. But absolutely brilliant I really did enjoy the majority of this book, the last few chapters about censorship etc becomes a bit more anecdotal and wasn't as interesting as the other chapters.

However, I would highly recommend this book to anyone, with or without an interest in language, this is a fabulous read!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable examination of swearing in the modern world, 10 Nov 2010
This review is from: Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing (Paperback)
What a cracking book! It is really erudite in terms of the etymology of all the common (and uncommon) swear words. But, just as important, there is so much insight into the role of taboo language for the individual and society. It also covers the change in our attitude to swearing. Most sexual swear word are no longer the ultimate taboo; that has been overtaken by racist epithets. However, Peter Silverton also looks at the role of swearing in different types of societies and how different languages produce swear words. This was particularly fascinating. On top of that it was extremely funny. Peter Silverton has a wickedly dry sense of humour. I learned so much from it and also enjoyed reading it immensely.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof that swearing can be big and clever., 27 Sep 2011
By 
ds (Whitby, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing (Paperback)
It's odd that much of the content of this book is unable to be quoted here. Why is swearing censored? Which swears are the worst? Why are English swear words different to others around the world? And why is it so very difficult to swear properly in another language? All these and many other questions are, if not answered fully, certainly pored over with the punctilious obsession of one whose trade uses the currency of language. This is not a small book, and will take you a while to work through. Not because it's dull: far from it, but because the amount of material is incredibly densely packed. Each page has at least one juicy morsel to chew on (usually more), pulled in from a mixture of memory, conversation and academic investigation.

The topics run from the biological to the profane, taking in Pompeian graffiti (including the rudest Latin swear word, landica), why there aren't that many swear words relating to the female form and the origins of the "Yo' Mama" swear. In between we see the differences in the mechanics of black and white US swearing, a brief history lesson about Aztec Mexico and trying to find out when the first f- word in recorded music turned up. All are fascinating, frequently witty and written with a certain lightness of touch that, in the hands of another, could have made for a rather leaden read. But it really isn't: it's a riot, and frequently illuminating to boot.

Well worth the money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oooh, Matron!, 5 Aug 2013
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I really liked this book! I am interested in words and swearing in particular so this was a really good read for me. The only reason I didn't give it 5* was because it does seem a little bit overlong with a bit of padding, however I would really recommend it to anyone who is broad-minded and interested in the way language changes and develops.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I swear that it's good., 23 July 2012
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This is an entertaining, informative book, a mix of erudition and research and downright belly laughs. An effing splendidly enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and amusing, 14 July 2012
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This is a very readable book which I would recommend both for those interested in linguistics and for the general reader. It is insightful and amusing and obviously thoroughly researched from a lay persons point of view so doesn't appear in any way too heavy. You will almost certainly learn a few things from this book!
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars (Un)hilariously self-important, 19 April 2012
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As someone who is fascinated by language in general, and certainly partial to the odd choice expression, this was a book I approached with great anticipation. The opening lines (available to view as a preview) promised a personal and witty account of the author's journey through the subject matter, and I was primed to suck up interesting insight into the history and etymology of our more colourful phrases. Unfortunately, though, I was disappointed on both counts.

With no particular structure or overall narrative, the book at times seems to simply comprise long lists of the various insults and curses used around the world. In common with many English schoolchildren, I have in my life spent time looking up swear words in a French dictionary. This does not, however, mean I wish to read a whole book about it.

To break up the monotony, the author sprinkles in liberal doses of what are presumably meant to be light-hearted anecdotes and witty reflections on a serious subject. Ranging from the inane (the time he used a Canadian French word that was ruder than he'd realised), through the self important (realising that the gap in literacy between himself and the poor working class black girls he was teaching was simply insurmountable, and that they'd never pull themselves out of their current situations), to the downright irrelevant (how his wife's grandfather played a role in the creation of the state of Israel), these in fact read as an expression of how interesting he thinks he is. Perhaps I missed something, but I wasn't exactly gripped.

Each chapter starts with an "interesting" aside on some period of the author's life (most of which include a frankly impressive number of name-drops), and each drags on at the same turgid pace. By the time I reached what could have been a very interesting discussion on the changing face of taboo - how racial slurs common 30 years ago are now unthinkable, while the opposite is true of traditionally vulgar sexual terms - any enthusiasm I may have started with was sorely diminished.

I had great hopes for this book when I bought it - now I'm just glad to have finished. Disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Filthy English, 6 Jan 2014
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Well I thought it was going to be boring as the preamble is , bbut no as I've got into the book it is a Hoot there are so many giggles along the way it's educational to and I haven't finished it yet,
It has been very well researched indeed and not to filthy, but then who dosen't like a little Filth now and then
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pedestrian, 2 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing (Paperback)
Peter Silverton is a journalist who cut his hacking teeth on writing about punk music and interviewing the likes of the Sex Pistols. So he's in a good position to know something about foul language. He takes us on a journey through the development and use of the whole gamut of swearing: what the words are, what they actually mean, where they come from, when did they arrive and how has their meaning changed over time.

We're taken on various journeys. Not just that of language used on the street or in the pub; nor just that written (or more usually not written) in the papers, dictionaries and books, but right across the spectrum of language use including pop music, TV and radio.

Having said that the book is a bit of a mix. Some chapters approach the subject from the point of view of the content: sex, genitals, excretion, family relations, sexuality. But others approach it from the direction of the medium: music, newspapers, football etc. I found this split approach rather unnecessary and repetitive. Intertwined with this there are, however, some interesting diversions into the relationship of our swearwords with those of other languages.

Despite my interest in language I have to admit I found the book slightly tedious going. Yes, for someone interested in language, it was interesting in parts. But I found Silverton's style somewhat pedestrian, stodgy and very "same-y". I also wanted more detail; greater depth.

This is a book to interest the averagely intelligent reader, which is actually no bad thing. It is not a book for someone with a deep interest the English language and a thirst for esoteric knowledge.
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Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing
Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing by Peter Silverton (Paperback - 7 Oct 2010)
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