Audacious, mind-expanding linguistic exploration of feminist vocabulary, past and present.

Linguist Montell pulls back the layers and the centuries of gender-controlled language and makes us take a long hard look at the words we use, how and why. From the first, I felt illumination. I adore social history, books about language and irreverent humour, so this was a perfect bringing together of elements I relish.

Montell narrates her own work, doing it with humour and charm, including anecdotes from her own past as she also delves into our country’s history. Long ago word origins are uncovered and discussed, the development of terms examined, current contemporary labels are pulled apart.

There is a lot of humour to be had, the chapter on genitalia terms had me chortling aloud. Swearing from the female perspective was quite educative. Insults with a gendered bias likewise. The very voguish references to ‘vocal fry’ and Trump’s ‘locker room banter’ brought us right up to date with current linguistic questions.

This is one I’ll be returning to, I suspect. Highly fascinating, at times riotously funny, honest and profound, anybody with an interest in the history of language, particularly that relating to gender, would be advised to give it a try.

Katy Noyes 5/5

Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language by Amanda Montell
HarperAudio B07Q461X2X audiobook May 2019