Monday, October 01, 2007

The Contemporary Dictionary of Sexual Euphemisms by Jordan Tate

This book claims to list and define modern sexual euphemisms, and it does do that. (Of course, the Urban Dictionary does the same thing, and does it better. The latter is free, too.)

Our lexicographer is a guy with a degree in philosophy (well, "Interdisciplinary Studies," actually, which generally translates to "this school is so easy that it lets students build their own majors and doesn't even require those majors to be about anything") from Miami University, and who currently is studying for his M.F.A. (Yes, another one of those. Just what this world needs.) Note the lack of any lexicographical study. This will be important later.

For each word or phrase (about a hundred in all), Tate includes:
  • a joke "straight" definition or two (These waste space and are not amusing.)
  • the actual sexual definition (Accurate, generally.)
  • etymology (I have no idea if these are correct, or even if they intend to be correct.)
  • an example quote of one of the "straight" usages (Pointless, unfunny, and space-wasting.)
  • finally, a dictionary-like entry about the history and implications of the sexual use of the term.
Tate speaks as an authority about the history of all of these words and phrases, attributing this one to the 19th century French and that one to Wisconsin in 1957, but never lists a single citation. Some of this presumed erudition, at least, is feigned for humorous purposes, but how much? Can any of it be believed? The reader simply doesn't know. So the one thing that would make this useful as a book -- word histories, and references about the sources and meanings of these euphemisms -- is completely missing. And the attempts at humor are, sadly, deficient in that category as well.

This book is about as useful as a rusty trombone on a quadriplegic eunuch. And you can quote me.

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