Book Review: Viz presents Roger’s Profanisaurus Rex

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Review: (2005). Viz presents Roger’s Profanisaurus Rex. Updated Edition. London: Dennis Publ. 348 pp. ISBN: 0-7522-2812-9.

Roger’s Profanisaurus Rex is a swearing dictionary for (mostly) British English, with entries taken from the pages of Viz. For those not familiar with Viz, this is a humourous “adult comic” that features, alongside comic strips such as The Fat Slags, Roger Irrelevant, and Sid the Sexist, reader’s letters and helpful tips. One of the features included Roger’s Profanisaurus, a supplement to the comic, turned into book form in 1998, second edition in 2002 and the book under review — the updated edition of 2005 (thank you Wikipedia).

As swearing dictionaries go, the coverage of this book is quite good, with 8000 plus entries. There are many entries for terms that are admittedly unfamiliar, and in these cases the entries often comprise both definition and synonyms. Often, the definition is comprised of synonyms. In quite a few cases, the profanisaurus features amusingly irreverent pseudo-citations from works such as Coast to coast the miserable way by Alfred Wainwright.

The definitions are generally amusing, and often amusingly circuitous because of the incorporation of synonyms into definitions — for example the defintion of Guatemalan taco. Often, the Profanisaurus avoids direct profanity by way of this internal reference mechanism, and while native speakers of English may find this charming, non-native speakers may find it confusing.

While I am a native speaker of English, I cannot say that I am at all up-to-date on the swearing front, and upon reading a few pages of the Profanisaurus, I recognized that I had indeed come across, and wondered about the meaning of some of the terms. For example, the MTV television programme Dirty Sanchez refers to an activity recorded in the pages of this book, similarly MILF — a surprizingly common term even outside the adult entertainment industry, and Lucky Pierre are to be found here.

The entries, of course, are mostly preoccupied with defecation, the act of coitus, and sundry terms for individuals and characteristics of these. What the Profanisaurus testifies to more than anything is that the creative imagination will find its outlets, and for many this includes finding words to describe the otherwise indescribable.

As a standard work of reference, it cannot be recommended, but for researchers working with vulgarity in film, literatture and music, this book might just prove very useful.

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