I love ANY book about how cuss words and insults originate, and a book about foreign cuss words and insults takes the cake. Uglier Than a Monkey's Armpit is a hilarious gathering of nasty bits from the world over, some accompanied by correct facial or hand gestures. Why, you can learn to call someone an @#$hole in ten different languages, and you even get the pronunciation to boot.
The authors have a diverse background in language. Dodson is creator of the blog languagehat.com, and Dr. V is the director of the Oxford University Language Center. The two have compiled a fast and funny account of various phrases that display everything from anger to disgust to a curse on your dead Aunt Jane from all over the world, along with some background info on how the phrase is interpreted in the specific language, and what we Americanos often use in its place.
This is NOT a book for kids, as some of the phrases are - well, very nasty. But my son and I got a good laugh over learning some of the face and hand gestures for the more pronounceable, and less X-rated, entries.
Just take our word, though. Don’t ever call your boss’s wife a “kurwa” in Polish, or a “korova” in Russian, although you might feel safe telling someone “then vastoun ta kotsia sou” in Greek…as long as they don’t speak Greek.
I only wish the book were longer. I am running out of insults I can use on an eight-year-old!