What the Fuck? Why Do We Curse?

Cursing is a funny phenomenon: a bunch of words or syllables are uttered by someone, and someone else may feel extreme emotions of righteous indignation and offense as a result, sometimes resulting in politicians actually proposing legislation to censure the public use of certain words. Some of us free speech lovers, on the other hand, love cursing and the ability it affords us to add that perfect sense of emphasis that no other set of words could quite reach. Love it or hate it, cursing conjures up deep seeded feelings that, when we are honest enough, we are ultimately unable to explain, even to ourselves.

From a linguistic points of view, cursing is quite an interesting phenomenon, since it manages to elude most attempts at classification and grammatical structuring. To test this, simply ask yourself exactly what the phrase "fuck you" means and you'll be stumped. As the following funny short video shows (and forgive all the misspellings in it), one of the reasons some of us love the f-word so much is perhaps due to the fact it may be the most flexible word in the entire English language.

If you are really curious as to why cursing has such a strong emotional impact on most people, check out the following extremely interesting paper written by world renowned Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, and published in The New Republic just a couple of weeks ago (for the fuller analysis of cursing and its relationship to thought and emotional experience, you should check out Pinker's newly released book The Stuff of Thought). In the article below, Pinker dissects the social, linguistic, religious, historical, political, psychological and evolutionary structure and origins of cursing, as well as its effects on the neurobiology of the brain. If you read nothing else today, this should be it.

Fuck yeah!
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