Swearing is a fascinating thing. Almost everyone does it, or worries about not doing it, from the two year old who has just discovered the power of the potty mouth to the grandma who wonders why every other word she hears is obscene. But more than its cultural ubiquity, swearing is also interesting for what it tells us about language and society, today and in the past. It is a record of what people care about on the deepest levels of a culture- what's divine, what's terrifying, and what's taboo. Holy Sh*t tells the story of two kinds of swearing - obscenities and oaths - from ancient Rome and the Bible to today. With humor and insight, Melissa Mohr takes readers on a journey to discover how 'swearing' has come to include both testifying to the truth with your hand on the Bible and calling someone a *#$&!* when they cut you off on the highway. Mohr explores obscenities in ancient Rome-remarkably similar to some of the things you might hear on the street today-and unearths the history of religious oaths in the Middle Ages, when swearing was a matter of life and death.
Holy Sh*t also explains the advancement of civility and corresponding censorship of language in the 18th century; considers the rise of racial slurs after World War II; and answers a question that preoccupies the FCC, the U.S. Senate, and anyone who has overheard little kids at a playground recently-are we swearing more now than people did in the past? A gem of lexicography and cultural history, Holy Sh*t is a serious exploration of obscenity - and might just expand your repertoire of words to choose from the next time you shut your finger in the car door.