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 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 more 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 f--k, What the F is mandatory listening for anyone who wants to know how and why we swear.
©2016 Benjamin K. Bergen (P)2016 Gildan Media LLC
"A lively study with the potential to offend just about anyone.... From a linguistic and sociological viewpoint, the book is illuminating, even playful...an entertaining...look at an essential component of language and society." (Publishers Weekly)
Warning, if you're sensitive about profane word use, this probably will be a hard one to handle.
But I would expect people to get that from the subject matter.
Beyond that warning, if you like words and language, this will be well worthing the listen. The reader does a great job and the book ends up being a much more scholarly approach to the topic than I would have guessed.
I read because I enjoy learning. A well written book is intellectually stimulaing, thought and conversation provoking. It's not often its actually fun and funny. The fact it's read by the author adds the dimension hearing his passion and his dry sense of humor made it so enjoyable it became a weekend binge listen. The conversations it started with friends led them to download it the next day. Learning starts immediately and does not stop, nor do you want it to. The chapter on grammar, yes grammar, is laugh out loud funny. You can't help but say "I never realized that! But holy c#%p! he's right!" Best book in a while, started to relisten immediately, its that fun and informative.
A very good look on how language is colored by swearing. Both humorous and technical. It proves that you can be smart, funny and swear like a drunken sailor! In the right context.
Report Inappropriate Content