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

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In my youth I never thought twice about shouting out the most vulgar profanities to other boys, but I kept them guarded from girls. And in front of adults, such usage was unthinkable. Yet, here we are with Benjamin K. Bergen’s new book, What The F. Bergen takes a deep look at how and why profane language came about and raises rather important and provocative questions about the use and significance of vulgar language.

Bergen uses “profanity,” “cursing,” and “swearing” interchangeably. The author also points out that profanity occurs in all languages and tends to identify similar body parts to dramatize the importance of the terms to which they refer. Although there are some subtle differences in meaning, simplification serves our interest best in this discussion.

Among the various points that the author makes light of, he covets the many nuances these words convey. Here profanity adds depth and color to language in a way quite different from other literary structures. Bergen holds an optimistic view of the case for cursing and feels that it must have evolved to placate the frustration we share in societal pursuits. It’s a fun read, providing insight and joy.

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Author Benjamin K. Bergen
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 288 pages
Publisher Basic Books
Publish Date 2016-Sep-13
ISBN 9780465060917
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue January 2017
Category Science & Nature


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