LINGUIST List 3.882

Tue 10 Nov 1992

Sum: Taboo Words

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. mark, Summary of replies to 3.553: Taboo words

Message 1: Summary of replies to 3.553: Taboo words

Date: Tue, 10 Nov 92 13:28:54 ESSummary of replies to 3.553: Taboo words
From: mark <>
Subject: Summary of replies to 3.553: Taboo words

Back in June or July I posted to this list a request for lists of
taboo and offensive words (not slang per se), which I was seeking
for research purposes. A number of people replied helpfully;
here is an edited compilation of their replies, with some
comments on the outcome of suggestions. I also got _The New
Dictionary of American Slang_, by Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D., 1986,
Harper & Row, (based on Wentworth & Flexner's _Dict. of Amer.
Slang_). My thanks to all the people who answered my request.

Bob Wachal:
The editor of MALEDICTA is the most likely person to know of an
electronic list. For printed sources, I recommend two out of
many: WICKED WORDS by Hugh Rawson (Crown, 1989) and SLANG AND
EUPHEMISM by Richard A. Spears (Jonathan David, 1981) lots of
what you want scatterd among non-taboo slang.
>>> [I know Reinhold Aman, the editor of MALEDICTA, of old by
mail, and I should have thought of him myself. The reference desk
of the local library located MALEDICTA for me, out in California,
but he wasn't answering his phone the times I called. - MAM]

Sheri Wells:
As an ESL teacher, I hear this question a lot ... just from a
slightly different angle. Allow me to suggest Alizebeth Claire's
book "Dangerous English". It's not complete, but it's fairly good.
I think the vocabulary part would be scannable. It's also got some
fascinating pictures. Good luck. You can order this from Delta
Systems in Chicago.

John Cowan:
Contact your congresscritter and senators. Both the Senate and
the House maintain lists of "unparliamentary language" -- anybody
using one of the forbidden words on the floor is squelched for the
rest of the day. ("Here the other guinea-pig cheered, and was
suppressed.") I don't know whether the list is available in
machine-readable form, but it couldn't hurt to try. Emphasize
your status as "researcher on language".
>>> [This hint eventually put me in contact with Sen. Ted
Kennedy's System Administrator, Chris Casey. He was extremely
accommodating, but all he could turn up was a report on
Unparliamentary Language in the House, dealing with "unseemly
language, language which maligns another Member or impugns his
motives, and language which disparages a Senator or the Senate as
a body." None of the language here was taboo as such. A typical
example: "And one of the adversaries, one of the people that from
my perspective and view of the world like the fact that America is
vulnerable..." - MAM] (mundane name not given):
You might be interested in the following book that provides a
surprisingly large (comprehensive?) list of all kinds of taboo
 Richard A. Spears. 1990. Forbidden American English: A serious
 compilation of taboo American English. Lincolnwood, IL:
 Passport Books (NTC).

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA

 Tlhingan khol daghojbe'chugh vaj bikhegh.
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