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Opus Maledictorum: A Book of Bad Words

This book has every offensive joke you’ve ever heard, plus some that are probably new to you. It’s a compendium of articles that have appeared in the journal Maledicta, a scholarly publication devoted to the study of "verbal aggression". The articles run the gamut from ones that are just lists of epithets particular to a language, to articles about Mozart and his bad language and an inquiry into whether he had Tourette’s syndrome.

Some of the articles are highbrow and the result of good research and scholarship while others are fairly informal, though no less well written. The articles focus more on the what and less on the why or how of bad, dirty and nasty language though there is a wonderful article about stand-up comedians' responses to hecklers that is amusing as well as interesting. Obviously, if you have a weak stomach for racial epithets or would not enjoy reading 50 words for the vagina, this book may not be for you. I found it good reading and well worth my time, in addition to teaching me a good new swear or two.