The science of swearing: from neuroscience to swearing apes, why we swear, what it does to us and why it's important.
Swearing, it turns out, is an incredibly useful part of our linguistic repertoire. Not only has some form of swearing existed since the earliest humans began to communicate, but it has been shown to reduce physical pain, help stroke victims recover their language, and encourage people to work together as a team.
Swearing Is Good For You is a spirited and hilarious defence of our most cherished dirty words, backed by historical case studies and cutting-edge research. From chimpanzees creating their own curse words, to a man who lost half his brain in a mining accident experiencing a new-found compulsion to swear - Dr Emma Byrne outlines the fascinating science behind swearing; how it affects us both physically and emotionally, and how it is more natural and beneficial than we are led to believe.
About the Author
Dr Emma Byrne is a scientist, journalist, and public speaker. Her BBC Radio 4 'Four Thought' episode was selected as one of the 'best of 2013' by the programme's editors. She has been selected as a British Science Association Media Fellow and for the BBC Expert Women Training, and is published in CIO, Forbes, the Financial Times and e-Health Insider. Swearing is Good For You is her first book.
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, bestselling author of Between You & Me
An impressive catalogue of research showing how effing and blinding helps us deal with pain, bond with others, is associated with intelligence and makes us more inclined to trust each other... a glorious uplifting read. -- Lucy Kellaway * Financial Times *
A chatty, humorously informative narrative that rummages through the science of bad language, grabbing at sociology, psychology, neuroscience and anthropology. -- Hephzibah Anderson * The Mail on Sunday *
Swearing has been the subject of considerable scientific analysis, it turns out, which Byrne's book
deftly reviews...Swearing is stinky cheese and malbec in a world of clean
eating. -- India Knight * The Sunday Times *
This excellent book backs up my long-held theory that people who swear are generally less uptight or anxious than those who don't...I think the most joyous bit about this book is learning that swearing is a powerful and acceptable weapon in a woman's armoury, a strong signal that we don't have to adhere to old-fashioned, traditional views of what is "ladylike", a phrase I often hear when swearing is discussed in mixed-gender debates. -- Lorraine Candy * The Sunday Times Style *
Byrne is a science writer with a PhD in robotics and a gleefully robust attitude to language... Swearing Is Good For You is a lively defence of its subject. -- James McConnachie * The Sunday Times *
Entertaining and informative ... reminds you of the mysterious pleasure of using words that are not meant to be said. -- Andrew Anthony * Observer *
A lively examination of a neglected subject. * The Week *
The next time someone tells you off for swearing, give them a copy of this book. Byrne explains all the ways in which swearing is good for us, from pain relief to team bonding, and reveals what cursing chimpanzees can tell us about the origin of dirty words. * BBC Science Focus *
An entertaining and often enlightening book... Ms Byrne's readers are sure to come away with a fresh appreciation of language at its most foul. * The Economist *
Byrne debunks a vision of the polished and polite past and re-educates her reader on the benefit of profanity in the workplace, as well as in moments of pain and its use in closing a gender gap. -- Louise Jones * The F Word *