Steven Pinker Explains the Neuroscience of Swearing (NSFW)

Steven Pinker is an exper­i­men­tal psy­chol­o­gist and one of the world’s fore­most writ­ers on lan­guage, mind, and human nature. Cur­rent­ly at Har­vard, Pinker has also taught at Stan­ford and MIT, and his research on visu­al cog­ni­tion and the psy­chol­o­gy of lan­guage has won prizes from the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences, the Roy­al Insti­tu­tion of Great Britain, the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Soci­ety, and the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion.

This video (find part 1 above, part 2 below, and the tran­script here) is tak­en from a talk giv­en on Sep­tem­ber 10, 2008 at War­wick­’s Book­store in La Jol­la, Cal­i­for­nia. Here, we find Pinker talk­ing about his then new book, The Stuff of Thought: Lan­guage as a Win­dow into Human Nature, and doing what he does best: com­bin­ing psy­chol­o­gy and neu­ro­science with lin­guis­tics. The result is as enter­tain­ing (and not safe for work) as it is insight­ful.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Stephen Fry, Lan­guage Enthu­si­ast, Defends The “Unnec­es­sary” Art Of Swear­ing

George Car­lin Per­forms His “Sev­en Dirty Words” Rou­tine: His­toric and Com­plete­ly NSFW

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

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