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Cursing… there’s a neurological explanation for it




American actor Bobs Watson (1930 - 1999) emphatically shouts in a scene with actor Jim Backus (1913 - 1989) from 'The Jim Backus Show' (also known as 'Hot Off The Wire'), 1960.
American actor Bobs Watson (1930 - 1999) emphatically shouts in a scene with actor Jim Backus (1913 - 1989) from 'The Jim Backus Show' (also known as 'Hot Off The Wire'), 1960.
NBC Television/Getty Images

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Why do we curse? And for those of us who do it, why do we love it?

Those are two questions that cognitive scientist Benjamin K. Bergen asks in his new book, “What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves” (Basic Books, 2016).

Bergen uses the latest in brain science scholarship to understand our impulse to swear, despite the cultural stigma around it. He also looks at how different cultures approach swearing and what are the qualities of cursing that make the practice universal.

Guest:

Benjamin K. Bergen, author of “What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves” (Basic Books, 2016). He is a professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego