Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever

May 4, 2021
Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever

One of the preeminent linguists of our timeexamines the realms of language that are considered shocking andtaboo in order to understand what imbues curse words with suchpower—and why we love them so much.Profanity has always been a deliciously vibrant part of ourlexicon, an integral part of being human. In fact, our ability tocurse comes from a different part of the brain than other parts ofspeech—the urgency with which we say "f&*k!" is instead relatedto the instinct that tells us to flee from danger.Language evolves with time, and so does what we consider profaneor unspeakable. Nine Nasty Words is a rollickingexamination of profanity, explored from every angle: historical,sociological, political, linguistic. In a particularly coarsemoment, when the public discourse is shaped in part byonce-shocking words, nothing could be timelier.