Book notice: Taboo and the Censoring of Language

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Nov 22 13:41:53 UTC 2006

Taboo and the Censoring of Language
Published: 2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Author: Keith Allan
Author: Kate Burridge

Many words and expressions are viewed as 'taboo', such as those used to
describe sex, our bodies and their functions, and those used to insult
other people. This book provides a fascinating insight into taboo language
and its role in everyday life. It looks at the ways we use language to be
polite or impolite, politically correct or offensive, depending on whether
we are 'sweet-talking', 'straight-talking' or being deliberately rude.
Using a range of colourful examples, it shows how we use language
playfully and figuratively in order to swear, to insult, and also to be
politically correct, and what our motivations are for doing so. It goes on
to examine the differences between institutionalized censorship and the
ways individuals censor their own language. Lively and revealing,
Forbidden Words will fascinate anyone who is interested in how and why we
use and avoid taboos in daily conversation.

1. Taboos and their origins;
2. Sweet talking and offensive language;
3. Bad language? Jargon, slang, swearing, insult;
4. The language of political correctness;
5. Linguistic purism and verbal hygiene;
6. Taboo, naming and addressing;
7. Sex and bodily effluvia;
8. Food and smell;
9. Disease, death and killing;
10. Taboo, censoring and the human brain.

Forwarded from Linguist-list:


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list