Why We Curse

A neuro-psycho-social theory of speech

| Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, Massachusetts
ISBN 9789027221865 (Eur) | EUR 39.00
ISBN 9781556197581 (USA) | USD 35.00
ISBN 9789027298485 | EUR 39.00 | USD 35.00
Psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, linguists and speech pathologists currently have no coherent theory to explain why we curse and why we choose the words we do when we curse. The Neuro-Psycho-Social Theory of Speech draws together information about cursing from different disciplines and unites them to explain and describe the psychological, neurological, cultural and linguistic factors that underlie this startling phenomenon.
Why We Curse is divided into five parts. Part 1 introduces the dimensions and scope of cursing and outlines the NPS Theory, while Part 2 covers neurological variables and offers evidence for right brain dominance during emotional speech events. Part 3 then focuses on psychological development including language acquisition, personality development, cognition and so forth, while Part 4 covers the wide variety of social and cultural forces that define curse words and restrict their usage. Finally, Part 5 concludes by examining the social and legal implications of cursing, treating misconceptions about cursing, and setting the agenda for future research.
The work draws on new research by Dr. Jay and others and continues the research reported in his groundbreaking 1992 volume Cursing in America. A psycholinguistic study of dirty language in the courts, in the movies, in the schoolyards and on the streets.
[Not in series, 91]  2000.  xv, 328 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
I. Introduction to the Study of Cursing
1. Tourette Syndrome and Coprolalia: The Need for a Theory
2. Psycholinguistics and Cursing
3. The Neuro-Psycho-Social (NPS) Theory of Cursing
4. Postulates of the NPS Theory
II. Neurological Factors Underlying Cursing
5. Propositional Speech, Nonpropositional Speech, and the Right Cerebral Hemisphere
6. Emotional Speech and the Emotional Brain
7. Anger and Verbal Aggression
8. Coprolalia and Mental Disorders
9. Neurological Control of Cursing
III. Psychological Factors Underlying Cursing
10. Psychological Aspects of Cursing
11. Language, Acquisition and Cognitive Growth
12. Memory and Awareness of Cursing
13. Personality, Religiosity, and Sexual Anxiety
14. Speech Habits and Social Learning
15. The Sexual Lexicon
16. Syntax and Sematics
IV. Social and Cultural Factors Underlying Cursing
17. Pragmatics and Cultural Contexts
18. Speaker Power
19. Gender Identity
20. Slang
21. Humor Elicitation
22. Religion, Taboo Speech, and Word Magic
23. Scatology and the Language of Disgust
24. Customary Restrictions: From Etiquette to Law
25. Evolving Language Standards
26. Tourette Syndrome: Cross-Cultural Comparisons
V. Why Do We Swear? Why Do We Choose the Words We Do?
27. Social and Legal Issues Involving Cursing
28. Ignorance, Misinformation, and Fallacies about Cursing
29. Future of Cursing Research
“[...] a book which will do much to inspire further investigations into emotional uses and effects of language [...]”
“[...] this is an excellent contribution to the study of offensive language, bringing together a variety of perspectives and a vast amount of research.”
Cited by

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2021. Swear words for sale. Pragmatics and Society 12:1  pp. 79 ff. Crossref logo
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2017.  In Advances in Swearing Research [Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 282],  pp. 1 ff. Crossref logo
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2021. Multi-model mapping of phonemic fluency. Brain Communications 3:4 Crossref logo
Crespo-Fernández, Eliecer
2021. Euphemism in laxative TV commercials: at the crossroads between politeness and persuasion. Journal of Politeness Research 0:0 Crossref logo
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2013.  In Handbook of Pragmatics,  pp. 1 ff. Crossref logo
Dewaele, Jean-Marc
2015. British ‘Bollocks’ versus American ‘Jerk’: Do native British English speakers swear more – or differently – compared to American English speakers?. Applied Linguistics Review 6:3  pp. 309 ff. Crossref logo
Hansen, Samuel J, Katie L McMahon & Greig I de Zubicaray
2019. The neurobiology of taboo language processing: fMRI evidence during spoken word production. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 14:3  pp. 271 ff. Crossref logo
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2019. Taboo gesticulations as a response to pain. Scandinavian Journal of Pain 19:2  pp. 397 ff. Crossref logo
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2016. The role of language proficiency in the perception of L2 taboo words by late bilingual speakers. EUROSLA Yearbook 16  pp. 25 ff. Crossref logo
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2009. ‘She's a fucking ticket’: the pragmatics of fuck in Irish English – an age and gender perspective. Corpora 4:1  pp. 85 ff. Crossref logo
Nodoushan, Mohammad Ali Salmani
2016. On the functions of swearing in Persian. Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict 4:2  pp. 234 ff. Crossref logo
Ochieng Orwenjo, Daniel & Cellyne A. Anudo
2016. A cognitive linguistic approach to Dholuo sexual euphemisms and dysphemisms. Cognitive Linguistic Studies 3:2  pp. 316 ff. Crossref logo
Sharps, Matthew J., Jaime F. Torkelson, David L. Hulett, Megan L. Kuhn & Clarissa N. Sevillano
2019. Police Profanity and Public Judgments of Guilt and Effectiveness in Officer-Involved Shootings. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology 34:1  pp. 87 ff. Crossref logo
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Wene, Imelda Woa & Ouda Teda Ena
2020. CURSING, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, PROFANITY, OBSCENITY AND EPITHET IN DALLAS BUYERS CLUB MOVIE. JOALL (Journal of Applied Linguistics & Literature) 5:1  pp. 71 ff. Crossref logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 20 november 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.

Subjects & Metadata


BIC Subject: CF – Linguistics
BISAC Subject: LAN009000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  99029156 | Marc record