Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Holy sh….

Yet another review I don't wish to lose…  This book was surprisingly academic.  If you like the review, be sure to click on the tags.  I blogged about Melissa Mohr earlier last year and it wasn't a review of her book.

Holy Sh*t... this was an interesting book!

 Sep 17, 2013 (Updated Sep 17, 2013)
Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Books
Rated a Very Helpful Review

    Pros:Very interesting look at the history of swearing in the English language.

    Cons:A bit academic.  Takes effort to read.

    The Bottom Line:Melissa Mohr provides an interesting glimpse at the habit of cussing.

    Yesterday, while hanging out on Facebook, I lamented to my fellow books top reviewers here on Epinions that my latest reading project, Melissa Mohr's 2013 book Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, was taking forever to read.  A few hours later, I had finished the book after a couple of weeks of reading.  Though I did complain to my husband, Bill, about all the profanity in The Big Lebowski when we watched it the other night, I have to admit that I enjoy swearing.  I don't understand why so many people get upset over so-called filthy language.  For me, the swearing in The Big Lebowski had gotten annoying because it was the same words uttered over and over again and had become boring.  It wasn't so much because the "f-word" itself is offensive to me.

    Melissa Mohr, whose book was introduced to me on Facebook by famously foul mouthed singer, producer, and radio host, Red Peters, has attempted to explain where swearing comes from.  In her book, Holy Sh*t, she explains the history behind some of the dirtiest words in English, linking history, literature, and even art and providing a comprehensive and scholarly explanation behind words like f*ck, c*nt, sh*t, and even the "n-word".

    The curious student in me lapped up all this new information enthusiastically, though not without effort.  I appreciated the way Mohr married history and current events to write a lucid discussion of the origin of swear words and curses.  This is a great book for foul mouthed nerds.

    I was surprised that the overall negative attitude about cursing seems to have evolved relatively recently.  I was particularly interested in Mohr's discussion about the so-called n-word, which has gotten a number of people in trouble lately.  We've become so sensitized to that word that even using words that sound similar, like niggle and niggardly, neither of which have any racist connotations at all, can get a person fired from their job.  Mohr relates that scandalous word to hate speech and provides an interesting discussion about court cases in which using that word could be considered "hate speech" that is not protected under the First Amendment and when it's simply rude.

    As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it took me a long time and considerable effort to get through this book.  While I did find Mohr's writing scholarly and competent, I didn't find it especially entertaining.  Holy Sh*t really is an academic look at cursing.  Mohr did an admirable job researching and providing notes so readers who want to study more about the phenomenon of swear words can read on in other scholarly books.  It's not so much a book intended to entertain as it is to inform, although I'm sure many readers are able to be both as they read Mohr's history of swearing.

    Frankly, I have done a lot of studying in my lifetime and am somewhat less interested in academic books than I might have been when I was younger.  On the other hand, I can't deny that I learned a lot readingHoly Sh*t and it was ultimately worth the effort.  There was a time long ago when people thought nothing of cursing.  Mohr explains why we suddenly had "words we couldn't say on television" and why some people determined that people who cuss are "lazy", "uneducated", and "low class".  She enlightens those of us who wonder why we have "bad words" and who determined that those words are bad.

    This is a good book for people who love language.  If you have any English majors on your Christmas list, this might be a great book for them to read; if they aren't offended by profanity, anyway.  It certainly was good reading for the former English major I am, even though I'm trying to read less lofty books these days.

    I give it four stars.

    4 comments:

    1. If I'd had the luxury of being an English major, a master's thesis related somehow to the topic of swear words might have been really fun.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. You can still write a thesis if you want to!

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    2. Someday I could, but attending law school after my internship might be a more practical use of time. I'll probably work with my dad, and either a law degree (possible specialization in patent law) or an MBA would be beneficial.

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    3. You have serious plans. I am in awe. I hope you'll read my blog then... I will provide light reading! ;)

      I am serious!

      ReplyDelete

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