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Dangerous TalkScandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-Modern England$
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David Cressy

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564804.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 October 2021

Abusive Words

Abusive Words

(p.17) 2 Abusive Words
Dangerous Talk

David Cressy

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines a variety of ‘abusive words’ and the circumstances of their expression. It describes the language of insult between parties, and the damage done by rumour and false news. It looks into the ways in which private exchanges became part of the public transcript using the records of local and national courts, councils, governors, magistrates, and diarists to recover the words that early modern authorities deemed transgressive. In attempting to reconstruct the circumstances of these exchanges in order to eavesdrop on past conversations, it offers a sample of the disorderly speech that came into the courts. The records show antisocial language, insult, and scolding; scandal, slander, defamation, libel; and the spreading of rumour and false news. These were products of social interactions that gave voice to the sins of the tongue.

Keywords:   abusive words, insult, scolding, defamation, slander, libel, rumour

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