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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

There are several areas of culture where taboo is encountered including religion and death, and recently it has become taboo to be sexist, racist, homophobic, or critical of physical or mental shortcomings. But there is one taboo area that is pervasive, and one where specific words are subject to strong taboo, and that is sexual activity and excretion, and it is this area that is the prime locus of comedy. Restrictions on language stimulate attempts to circumvent the restrictions and a lot of verbal humour involves ingenious ways of skirting around taboo words or disguising them rather than using them. Less frequently they are used for shock effect as with Eliza Doolittle’s, ‘Not bloody likely’.

Keywords: taboo word, profanity, oblique reference, wit, wordplay

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