When the Sex Pistols swore live on tea-time telly in 1976, there was outrage across Britain. Headlines screamed. Christians marched. TVs were kicked in. Thirty years on, all those words are media-mainstream - bandied about with impunity on TV and in the papers. This is the story of our bad language and its three-decade journey from the fringes of decency to the working centre of a more linguistically liberal nation. Silverton takes a clear, comprehensive and witty look at swearing and the impact of its new acceptability on our language, our manners and our society. He considers how we have become more openly emotional, yet more wary about insulting others. And how it's seemingly become alright to say **** and **** but not ****** or ****. This is the story of that cultural revolution, written by one who was there at the start, proudly striking some of the first blows in the long struggle for the right to reclaim filthy English and use it.
'Every page offers curious facts and ideas and one is left with amazement at the vast profane creativity at work in the unique human project of language. And so, despite what I was so often told at school, I now have to admit that swearing really is big and clever' Ian Irvine, Observer
'[A] consistently enjoyable treatise on English swearing. Too intelligent and impassioned to be a Christmas novelty hit, too entertaining to impress purist academics, Filthy English falls into the category of popular history, enlivened by anecdote, digression and the author's appealing appetite for language's cloacal inclinations ... a generous buffet of facts surrounding our linguistic depravities' Herald
'With likeable digressiveness, Silverton chases down etymologies, charts changing standards of taste - The last few chapters (particularly those on swearing in pop music, and on racist epithets) are very good' Steve Poole, Guardian