Listen to Lexicon Valley Episode No. 28: A Brief History of Swearing
In her new book Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing, author Melissa Mohr divides bad words into two major camps: the “holy”—religious oaths that we consider profane—and the “shit” —bodily functions and sexual terms that we deem obscene. And over the long arc of recorded history, from Ancient Rome until today, the pendulum of impropriety has swung between the two. For example, matter-of-fact anatomy texts from the Middle Ages contain words that are now among our most taboo, while swearing religious oaths at the time was utterly shocking. Listen to Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo curse a blue streak with Mohr.
You'll find every Lexicon Valley episode at slate.com/lexiconvalley, or in the player below:
Send your thoughts about the show to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TODAY IN SLATE
I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.
Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter
The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge
Iran and the U.S. Are Allies
They’re just not ready to admit it yet.
Giving Up on Goodell
How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.