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Political Correctness: A History of Semantics and Culture (Language Library)by Geoffrey Hughes
Synopses & Reviews
Political Correctness is now an everyday phrase and part of the modern mindset. Everyone thinks they know what it means, but its own meaning constantly shifts. Its surprising origins have led to it becoming integrated into contemporary culture in ways that are both idealistic and ridiculous. Originally grounded in respect for difference and sensitivity to suffering, it has often become a distraction and even a silencer of genuine issues, provoking satire and parody. In this carefully researched, thought-provoking book, Geoffrey Hughes examines the trajectory of political correctness and its impact on public life.
Exploring the origins, progress, content, and style of PC, Hughes’ journey leads us through authors as diverse as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Swift; Philip Larkin, David Mamet, and J.M. Coetzee; from nursery rhymes to Spike Lee films. Focusing on the historical, semantic, and cultural aspects of political correctness, this outstanding and unique work will intrigue anyone interested in this ongoing debate.
In this carefully researched, thought-provoking book, Geoffrey Hughes examines the trajectory of political correctness and its impact on public life. Focusing on the historical, semantic, and cultural aspects of political correctness, it will intrigue anyone interested in this ongoing debate.
About the Author
Geoffrey Hughes graduated from Oxford, was an Honorary Research Associate at Harvard, and is Emeritus Professor of the History of the English Language at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He is the author of An Encyclopedia of Swearing (2006), A History of English Words (Wiley-Blackwell, 2000), Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English (1998), and Words in Time (1988). He is currently Honorary Research Associate at the University of Cape Town.
Table of Contents
Part I Political Correctness and its Origins 1
Chapter 1 Defining Political Correctness 3
Chapter 2 The Origins and the Debate 60
Part II The Semantic Aspect 85
Chapter 3 Words and Authorities: Dictionaries and Lexicographers 87
Chapter 4 The Evolution of the Word Field 106
Part III Zones of Controversy 113
Chapter 5 Issues of Race, Nationality, and Difference 115
Chapter 6 Agendas Old and New 178
Part IV Cultural and Historical Issues 215
Chapter 7 Political Correctness in the Past 217
Chapter 8 Culture 236
Conclusion: The Right Thing to Do? Progressive Orthodoxy, Empty Convention or Double Standard? 283
Author and Subject Index 309
Word Index 317
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