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Swearing Is Good for You

by Emma Byrne

Swearing Is Good for You Synopsis

We're often told that swearing is outrageous or even offensive, that it's a sign of a stunted vocabulary or a limited intellect. Dictionaries have traditionally omitted it and parents forbid it. But the latest research by neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, and others has revealed that swear words, curses, and oaths-when used judiciously-can have surprising benefits. In this sparkling debut work of popular science, Emma Byrne examines the latest research to show how swearing can be good for you. With humor and colorful language, she explores every angle of swearing-why we do it, how we do it, and what it tells us about ourselves. Not only has some form of swearing existed since the earliest humans began to communicate, but it has been shown to reduce physical pain, to lower anxiety, to prevent physical violence, to help trauma victims recover language, and to promote human cooperation. Taking readers on a whirlwind tour through scientific experiments, historical case studies, and cutting-edge research on language in both humans and other primates, Byrne defends cursing and demonstrates how much it can reveal about different cultures, their taboos and their values. Packed with the results of unlikely and often hilarious scientific studies-from the ice-bucket test for coping with pain, to the connection between Tourette's and swearing, to a chimpanzee that curses at her handler in sign language-Swearing Is Good for You presents a lighthearted but convincing case for the foulmouthed.

Swearing Is Good for You Press Reviews

A good book about bad language by a trash-talking woman? Sign me up! Swearing Is Good for You makes science feel downright celebratory. -- Mary Norris, best-selling author of Between You & Me Byrne crafts an enthusiastic case for bad language. . . . [Her] immensely readable first outing will be a real fucking treat. -- Booklist Engaging and often irreverent. . . . Byrne's style is conversational [and] entertaining. -- Library Journal Engaging and conversational. . . . Byrne provides a refreshing, entertaining, instructive examination of a 'surprisingly flexible part of a linguistic repertoire.' -- Kirkus Reviews In Swearing Is Good for You, Emma Byrne unearths an unorthodox body of research to reveal how swearing helps reduce pain and anxiety and can even bring people together. This fascinating debut is perfect for fans of Mary Roach. -- Real Simple Shit, this book is fascinating. -- Refinery29 A poppy, comprehensive look at an often taboo topic. -- New York Post An entertaining and often enlightening book. . . Byrne's readers are sure to come away with a fresh appreciation of language at its most foul. -- Economist

Book Information

ISBN: 9781324000280
Publication date: 18th September 2020
Author: Emma Byrne
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 240 pages
Categories: Language: history & general works,

About Emma Byrne

Emma Byrne has written on science, language, and society for the BBC, Science, the BMJ, the Financial Times, and Forbes. She lives in London.

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