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Why do so many swear words involve sex, bodily functions and religion? Why are some words rude and others aren't? Why can launching into expletives be so shocking - and sometimes so amusing?
Steven Pinker takes us on a fascinating and funny journey through the world of profanities, taken from his bestselling The Stuff of Thought, to show us why we swear (whatever our language or culture), how taboos change and how we use obscenities in different ways. You'll discover that in Québecois French the expression 'Tabernacle' is outrageous, that the Middle Ages were littered with four-letter words, that 'scumbag' has a very unsavoury origin and that in a certain Aboriginal language every word is filthy when spoken in front of your mother-in-law.
Covering everything from free speech to Tourette's, from pottymouthed celebrities to poetry, this book reveals what swearing tells us about how our minds work. (It's also a bloody good read).