The Mother Tongue - Chapter 14 Swearing Summary & Analysis

Bill Bryson
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Chapter 14 Swearing Summary and Analysis

Bryson traces the development of swear words in English and other languages. Throughout English literature, spoken swear words have been largely unrecorded and are difficult to trace. The use of modern swear words has evolved over time, adapting terms from other languages or slowly changing the meaning of words over time. Many modern swear words come from words used in polite speech centuries ago. On the other hand, many words which were once taboo are not considered quite innocent.

Many swear words come from a religious context and are slowly changed and made socially acceptable. Looking at historical examples, such as those in Shakespeare's works, it is possible to see the development of religious curses into expletives and vice versa. The history of swear words takes on a different turn in later generations as society becomes more concerned with...

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This section contains 396 words
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Buy The Mother Tongue Study Guide
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