The Oxford Handbook of Taboo Words and Language

ISBN : 9780198808190

Keith Allan
480 Pages
171 x 246 mm
Pub date
Nov 2018
Oxford Handbooks


To purchase this item, please add the product to your basket and click the Shopping basket link above to view your basket and continue.

Send mail

This volume brings together experts from a wide range of disciplines to define and describe tabooed words and language and to investigate the reasons and beliefs behind them. In general, taboo is defined as a proscription of behaviour for a specific community, time, and context. In terms of language, taboo applies to instances of language behaviour: the use of certain words in certain contexts. The existence of linguistic taboos and their management lead to the censoring of behaviour and, as a consequence, to language change and development.

Chapters in this volume explore the multiple types of tabooed language from a variety of perspectives, such as sociolinguistics, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, historical linguistics, and neurolinguistics, and with reference to fields such as law, publishing, politics, and advertising. Topics covered include impoliteness, swearing, censorship, taboo in deaf communities, translation of tabooed words, and the use of taboo in banter and comedy.


1 Keith Allan: Taboo words and language: An overview
2 Jonathan Culpeper: Taboo language and impoliteness
3 Eliecer Crespo Fernandez: Taboos in speaking of sex and sexuality
4 Reka Benczes and Kate Burridge: Speaking of disease and death
5 Timothy B. Jay: The psychology of expressing and interpreting linguistic taboos
6 Timothy B. Jay: Taboo language awareness in early childhood
7 Shlomit Ritz Finkelstein: Swearing and the brain
8 Jami N. Fisher, Gene Mirus, and Donna Jo Napoli: sticky: Taboo topics in deaf communities
9 Jack Hoeksema: Taboo terms and their grammar
10 Kate Burridge and Reka Benczes: Taboo as a driver of language change
11 Pedro J. Chamizo Dominguez: Problems translating tabooed words from source to target language
12 Jean-Marc Dewaele: Linguistic taboos in a second or foreign language
13 Luvell Anderson: Philosophical investigations of the taboo of insult
14 Keith Allan: Religious and ideologically motivated taboos
15 Christopher Hutton: Speech or conduct? Law, censorship, and taboo language
16 Gabriele Azzaro: Taboo language in books, films, and the media
17 Toby Ralph and Barnaby Ralph: Taboos and bad language in the mouths of politicians and in advertising
18 Elijah Wald: Taboo language used as banter
19 Barry J. Blake: Taboo language as source of comedy
20 Stanley H. Brandes: An anthropological approach to taboo words and language

About the author: 

Keith Allan is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at Monash University and Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland. His research interests include the history and philosophy of linguistics, and aspects of meaning in language. His many books include Linguistic Meaning (Routledge, 1986; reissued 2014), Natural Language Semantics (Blackwell, 2001), and The Western Classical Tradition in Linguistics (Equinox, 2007; 2nd ed. 2010). He is the co-editor of multiple volumes, including The Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics (with Kasia Jaszczolt; CUP, 2012), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics (OUP, 2012), and The Routledge Handbook of Linguistics (Routledge, 2015).

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.