What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves

What the F What Swearing Reveals About Our Language Our Brains and Ourselves Nearly everyone swears whether it s over a few too many drinks in reaction to a stubbed toe or in flagrante delicto And yet we sit idly by as words are banned from television and censored in books

  • Title: What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves
  • Author: Benjamin K. Bergen
  • ISBN: 9780465060917
  • Page: 114
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Nearly everyone swears whether it s over a few too many drinks, in reaction to a stubbed toe, or in flagrante delicto And yet, we sit idly by as words are banned from television and censored in books We insist that people excise profanity from their vocabularies and we punish children for yelling the very same dirty words that we ll mutter in relief seconds after they faNearly everyone swears whether it s over a few too many drinks, in reaction to a stubbed toe, or in flagrante delicto And yet, we sit idly by as words are banned from television and censored in books We insist that people excise profanity from their vocabularies and we punish children for yelling the very same dirty words that we ll mutter in relief seconds after they fall asleep Swearing, it seems, is an intimate part of us that we have decided to selectively deny.That s a damn shame Swearing is useful It can be funny, cathartic, or emotionally arousing As linguist and cognitive scientist Benjamin K Bergen shows us, it also opens a new window onto how our brains process language and why languages vary around the world and over time.In this groundbreaking yet ebullient romp through the linguistic muck, Bergen answers intriguing questions How can patients left otherwise speechless after a stroke still shout Goddamn when they get upset When did a cock grow to be than merely a rooster Why is crap vulgar when poo is just childish Do slurs make you treat people differently Why is the first word that Samoan children say not mommy but eat shit And why do we extend a middle finger to flip someone the bird Smart as hell and funny as fuck, What the F is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to know how and why we swear.

    One thought on “What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves”

    1. Finally!!!! I finished this one not much to say after 6 days of no reading . this book is mostly a study of how society perceives slurs and how the definition of slurs have changed over the years , this is not a study on swear words per se so a little too technical for a theme that I don't believe I wanted to read , but interesting study none the less.

    2. A really interesting exploration of profanity. This is for anybody who is interested in language, cultural norms and differences, social psychology, or cognitive and neurosciences.Benjamin K. Bergen provides some remarkable evidence-based arguments. His examination of profanity's alleged harm to children was impressively analyzed, supported and outlined. The sections about American and British Sign Language and the global, cultural differences with regard to offensive language and gestures were [...]

    3. I'm giving up on this one. I've been trying to finish it for months even though some small part of me always suspected this might not be as awesome as I had hoped. It wasn't predetermined suspicion but I had to wonder why there should be a 288 page book covering this bit of trivia. The information seemed so much less than the content.And that's when shit went south for me. While never fascinating, the interesting stuff became less and less interesting until I found myself drowning in the minutae [...]

    4. It took a few chapters to get into the book because the author set a less than serious tone from the offset. I thought he was going to try joking his way through a book about cursing, which didn't seem particularly interesting to me. However, when he finally got into the neuro and cognitive (linguistic) science of it, I ended up loving it! The key message of the book was that the utterances of curse words do not simply break the rules of polite society; they break the rules of typical brain beha [...]

    5. Nunca tinha pensado na importância dos xingamentos e o que eles expressam. Descobri que em alguns casos de AVC, por exemplo, alguém pode perder a capacidade da fala (se acontece no hemisfério esquerdo do cérebro) mas ainda conseguir xingar (quem controla isso é o hemisfério direito).Um ótimo livro sobre linguística que fala sobre como pensamos sobre palavrões. Uma boa parte do conteúdo não é transponível para o português, como o tamanho dos palavrões e repetições de temas como a [...]

    6. DISCLAIMER: This review contains profanities and offensive words. This is purely a part of a professional way of analysing language and by no means meant to offend anyone! Thank you for understanding! :) What the F by Benjamin Bergen is an excellent read for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of language and its relation to humans.Words have power. We know that because WE are the ones giving them power. And I don't just mean power as in saying "stand up!", making people do just [...]

    7. Fascinating book for anyone interested in linguistics or sociology and social norms. This book takes an in depth look at why some words are socially unacceptable and how these words came to be considered profanities in the first place. I loved that this book examined the cultural differences that exist in terms of offensive language. For example, I was unaware that the Japanese language contains no profanities whereas the Russian state has a list of profane language which are banned from use in [...]

    8. Oh my gosh, this was so fun, English majors and other geeks with potty mouths will enjoy Benjamin K Bergen's enlightenment on the topic of swearing. There's so much interesting stuff packed into this book that I have a hard time focusing on what the highlights were. I listened to the audio book and now that I have, I want to buy the print version to share with my family and reread myself. The short title 'What the F' and and the cover with the big red F make it seem like the book will be a fun, [...]

    9. There are very few books that I uave abandoned, this was one of them.The subject matter is fascinating, the discussions and theories compelling, and it was all easy to understand. That being said, it was very repetitive, so mch so that I started skimming each paragraph to see if new material was presented. Something else bothered me about the author's tone. It was light and jokey but it felt obvious that he was dumbing (and he knew it and reveled in it) down for people because he didn't think fo [...]

    10. Some of the most fascinating areas to ponder are those which break down and decimate the facets in life which we take for granted. These revelations demonstrate how remarkable the simplest of things can be. What is one of the most common day-to-day, minute-by-minute actions we brush aside? Language and speech. By extension, the ability to swear and cuss like a sailor. Benjamin K. Bergen, a profession of cognitive science working with language; attempts to foray into the world of ‘fuck’ and [...]

    11. This book is as hilarious and well written as it is serious and interesting. Basically the author is a neuro-linguist, looking at the use of profanity in our language. Where did these words come from, how are they used, are they bad for us, how has the idea of profanity changed over time? He talks about the parts of speech and how profanity transcends normal grammar rules, how profanity is used in people who have had strokes or tourettes, and looks at brain function and things like cultural norm [...]

    12. I read an interesting article promoting this book and checked it out from the library. The book itself was not as interesting as the article. The author is very repetitive, sometimes even repeating the same thing within 5 sentences. And the author couches many of his statements as speculation because there is little or no research to support his ideas. That's fine, but having to read over and over that he was speculating got annoying. I think the concept of this book was interesting but reading [...]

    13. I gave up on this one almost halfway through. It was interesting while I was reading it, but I never felt any urge to pick it up once I set it down.

    14. It got a little long winded in certain chapters, which may have been made worse by the fact that I've read a lot of his reference sources (like Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought, for instance) but that didn't stop this book from being fascinating. CLEARLY not for those with with low tolerance for profanity or who one who is easily offended. If you can stomach it, though, it provides a decent understanding of the language we speak and WHY these words are/could be considered profane in the firs [...]

    15. This was a fairly interesting book, and it had at least one section that I found really interesting. According to Bergen, there's reasonable evidence (though less than absolute proof) that profanity--when used as profanity and not just when you're talking about profane words--arises from an independent, older neurological pathway than intentional speech. This has led some theorists to propose that swearing of both the aphasia and the coprolalia types is produced by different brain machinery than [...]

    16. I've always wondered why giving someone "the bird" in England requires two fingers and in the US only one. I worry that someday I'll accidentally make a peace sign in the wrong country, so I keep my hands out of it. Now, I can be a tad less worried because I know how to swear in quite a few countries both with my mouth and my hands! This book has been a great highlight of my office over the last few weeks -- so much so that I renewed it from the library so we could continue our studies. We may b [...]

    17. Completely fascinating! And the book is a perfect mix of humorous and informational. I highly recommend the audiobook version, as it is narrated by the author, and his sense of humor comes across really well in how he reads the book. This was a really interesting look at swearing and profanity from a lot of different perspectives: linguistic, psychological, cultural, biological, etc. The arguments made are well supported with research and experimental studies, or if the support isn't currently a [...]

    18. I really enjoyed this book! A lot of content on profane words themselves, but also lots of information about word history, how humans learn language, grammar, how languages change, some of the science about how and why specific words can effect people, how culture effects what we say and hear. I feel like I walked away with a greater understanding of where profanity comes from, but also an appreciation for the complex achievement that is human language.

    19. Fascinating!This was very informative and highly entertaining. I didn't totally agree with the final conclusions from the chapter on slurs, but otherwise thought this was an excellent book, and the author did a great job narrating the audio version.Recommended!

    20. I love books like this. The author digs deeply into a part of our lives that we often ignore. This covers how curse words are similar to and different from regular words. It even explains what we can learn about how our brains work from studying forbidden words.

    21. I really enjoyed this book.Not only did I learn a lot more 50¢ and 4 letter words, but more than I have words for about language, how we use it, how we learn it, and how we manipulate it.Also, moist.

    22. This book is equal parts hilarious and informational. It really breaks down the use and impact of swearing and how to possibly address the concerns about the words.

    23. An approachable and fascinating book about profanity--its history, neurological effects, and use as a tool to study language. Audio book note: it's read by the author, which in this case works really well! The profanity itself is a little startling at first but you get used to it. Fun listen.

    24. At first I thought this might be too similar to Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, but this one is much more empirical and brain sciency, where Holy Sh*t was more historical/literary. Both are interesting, but I enjoyed What the F quite a bit more. The first half of What the F is a little slow, but starting with Chapter 6 "Fucking Grammer" it picks up. I should warn you though that I'm a total language geek and love contemplating questions like "What is the grammatical subject of 'Fuck you! [...]

    25. Excellent and enjoyable and informative! I highly recommend this book, so long as you can handle all the 'bad' words. It's funny, too!

    26. Heard this one being discussed on public radio and had to get it. Excellent research on why people curse, and how it affects ones brain. There's a REASON that when you're startled or suddenly hurt a surprised "#$%!" slips out and you can't stop yourself.I liked how the author breaks down swearing into different categories, like the US has a swearing currency based on sex curse words, Italy has one based on God curse words. Interesting. Japan has no curse words at all, so they improvise.Sometimes [...]

    27. I thought this book was interesting for the facts involved in it. I also likes learning about brain function and language. Very interesting, definitely not a favorite though !

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