Daniel Santos

Forbidden English

A couple of weeks ago, while at my parents' house, I came across a book I had not seen in a long time. Its name, “Inglês Proibido”, translates to “Forbidden English”, a dictionary collecting sexual and vulgar English expressions.

Oh. My. God. 😱

I regarded this one book as lost. I mean, I didn't know it was still around, and it only showed up because my parents and I went scavenging through old boxes, documents and stuff while looking for something completely unrelated. It was a real thrill to find it. It really warmed up my heart.

I immediately brought it home — to the complete despair of my wife, as there's no room for any more physical books here. Not because of its usefulness, as if I needed to look up harsh words or curse language, there's plenty of online material, Urban Dictionary and Green’s Dictionary of Slang only to name two of them.

It was because of pure, personal memorabilia.

I used to teach English. To be more precise, I was an ESL teacher. In a time without mobile apps, when the internet was not yet a thing — and yes, there was such a time, believe me —, meaning no podcasts or YouTube channels, ebooks or even PDF versions of physical books, teachers needed to find their ways into diving deeper into English. In my case, I went to the nearest bookstores and tried to find new content to study.

“Inglês Proibido” was one such finding. And it was very, very useful both because it opened my mind to new words (yeah, they were cursed and impolite ones, yeah, but still), but mostly because my students, several of them teens like I was when I started teaching ESL, had a lot of curiosity specially regarding such... terminology.

I loved to be able to satisfy their curiosity, just as much as my own. And books like this — and a lot of other specialized collections and dictionaries that I still keep with me, including a computing dictionary from Oxford and an Aerospace dictionary from Cambridge were such powerful tools. They still are.

I can say finding “Inglês Proibido” again, when my best guess was that it had been lost while we moved from house to house, was a real blessing. It made me go down memory lane, and that's priceless.

Thank you, old book. Even though you're filled with curse words in you.

#english #journal