A couple of books published recently have tackled the heretofore taboo yet titillating topic of taboo/profane words. This is the one that I just happened to buy but I guess that it could have been anyone of them. The title was read by the author and I usually avoid self-read titles because just because you can write beautifully doesn't mean that you are pleasant to listen to for multiple hours. Bergen is an exception to the rule; he reads as well as he writes. The book is nicely organized. It has a basis in scientific research and is filled with anecdotal evidence to support the points he is trying to make. He writes for a broad audience not academia.
Warning, if you hearing/reading taboo/obscene/profane language in any context offends, this book might not be for you. Bergen's over-all intent is not to offend but to explore the topic and discuss its social ramifications. Four-letter words are here to stay; we might as well learn a little bit more about them.
If nothing else, this book made me think and it made me want to set my thoughts to paper. I don't have a problem with declaring some words to be taboo--particularly slurs. In fact, I am actually in favor of it. Except for slurs, I also don't have a problem with judiciously using taboo words in my own speech. However, I think that one should not use them with impunity (that is the way I was brought up); there is a time and a place and an appropriate audience. I still don't drop f-bombs in front of my parents, who I don't think I have ever heard use the word, and I don't regularly sprinkle my speech them (to the effect that when I use them, they are powerful!). I don't full agree with Bergen's take on our attempts to censor speech. I'm in favor of censorship on the airwaves and of ratings of TV, movies and videogames that protect my right not to have to hear any of these words or to have my children hear these words. It should be up to me when I want to hear taboo speech and under what circumstances. I'm not against free speech; I'm just against those who think that just because they say it that others want to hear it or even have to react positively to their utterances. If you insist on peppering each sentence you utter with f-bombs this that and the other, you will soon find that we aren't having very many conversations. Daddy always said that smart people don't need to use taboo language to express themselves and that has always formed the way I try to speak. But yeah, I'm no goody-two-shoes; I do have my moments.
I'm on a winning streak. This is he second "Daily Deal" this month. And oddly enough, both of them have been titles that are being read by the author, something I tend to avoid because good authors aren't necessarily good narrators. But I listened to the sample before deciding to buy and surprisingly, both authors weren't half bad.
We are a linguistically blended American Family. DH and I grew up in Philadelphia but raised our children in Boston, thus our children speak a mix of regional dialects. Now add to the mix my son-in-law who is from Connecticut.
I brought these two books out at dinner time (dessert actually) and we had a hoot going through both of them, especially the very graphic Speaking American. It was interesting to listening to my children commenting on the various words that they used and didn't use and even more on the words that we used but that they later discovered when they went off to college that nobody else used.
For me, the most interesting page was the one about telling time. How do you say "3:45"? Do you say "Three forty-five" or "Quarter to four" or "Quarter of four" or "Quarter til four"? I decided that I would say "It's quarter to four" but that I would also say "It's quarter of" if not specifying a given hour.
I still haven't sat down to read it cover to cover but sharing it with my adult children was a lot of fun.