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Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language
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Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  946 ratings  ·  154 reviews
In this sparkling debut work of popular science, Emma Byrne examines the latest research to show how swearing can be good for you. She explores every angle of swearing—why we do it, how we do it, and what it tells us about ourselves. Packed with the results of unlikely and often hilarious scientific studies—from the “ice-bucket test” for coping with pain, to the connection ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by W. W. Norton Company (first published November 17th 2017)
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3.45  · 
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 ·  946 ratings  ·  154 reviews

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Jesica DeHart
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hell yeah! Finally some fucking proof to what my gut has been declaring for years. There is something exuberantly cathartic and empowering about releasing tension, frustration and any emotion with a string of some salty expletives! Thank you for making it official.
As someone who loves the f-word, I was instantly intrigued by this book.

I enjoyed getting various bits of the history of swearing and seeing different scientific experiments and team building activities. I especially enjoyed the chapter on ladies who swear.

There were a few sections that did get a little dry, but there was a lot of humor and the science wasn’t too overly science-y.

Overall, it was an interesting topic and learning a few new words was an added bonus.

**Huge thanks to WW Norton &
☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆
I picked up this book because I honestly talk like a sailor. I say ‘fuck’ too much and it’s like a second language to me. I was raised in The South and we are taught ladies should not use foul language. Well I say, “Fuck that shit!” I loved this book because it had history and proof that swearing is good for you. I read this non fiction book in a few sittings and it was fun. To cut to the chase, this book was the shit!
So firstly, this was fun and liked it and I admire its enthusiasm. Any book that tries to break down the taboo veil surrounding swearing is good in my book. I do not understand the fixation that some people have about swearing, and I probably never will. But this book does a really good job laying out a general overview of, as the title tells you, why swearing is good for you.

This is actually why I'm only giving it three and a half stars, because as always seems to be the case with these pop sci
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is both screamingly funny in parts, a social science observation in parts, and compares swear words in other languages besides English. I found the chapter on Tourette's the most interesting, even if the author says it shouldn't be in the book.

I've always had a really liberal vocabulary, except I will not say words that are hurtful, racist, or sexist. For 30 years I taught magazine writing at the university level, and I could never stop saying "the f-ing table of contents is buried aft
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed for the Bibliophibian.

Yes, really, and this really is a serious book, referring to studies and discussing them in a sober and mostly non-profane fashion. At times the casual swearing seemed a little much (a bit of a gimmick, rather than me feeling bad about swearing at all), but there’s a lot of fascinating stuff in here. There’s a chapter on Tourette’s, for example: although Byrne explains that it doesn’t really belong in a book about swearing being good for you, because in the case of
I received access to this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If you are looking for exciting new swears to use, this is not the book for you - especially since researchers are apparently hesitant to use the *actual* swear words patients employ when writing studies, something that is slowly turning around (thank goodness).

If you are interested in how swearing helps you to withstand or alleviate pain, strengthens bonds between colleagues and teammates, or how it disparately affe
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hate it when I start a book that I'm looking forward too only to run into intellectually questionable assertions with no explanation of what the author means. She really ought to stick to robot science rather than delve into generalisations about culture, history, neurology, etc. I put the book down after the section entitled "The Case of the Disappearing Cock and Ass: Notes on Transatlantic Swearing." In this section she asserts that North Americans have trouble understanding UK swearing beca ...more
Michele Long
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are going to "read" this book, I highly recommend the audiobook. I typically don't listen to audiobooks, except for the occasional 5+ hour car ride. Well let me just say, audiobook is the way to go with this one! The first half of the book was not only interesting, but was so much fun (probably more fun than I should admit) listening to a woman spewing cuss words in a British accent like it was nothing. She even eases smoothly back and forth from different languages. That alone was worth ...more
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most hilarious book chock-full of f*cking awesome stories about swearing and human nature. Spontaneous swearing with chimps to a scary as h*ll brain injury this was a wild ride that I didn't want to put down.
Surprisingly, I found Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language by Emma Byrne to be a bit of a slog. The subject matter is near and dear to my heart and the introduction is funny and promised a good read but this skinny book (201 pages minus the notes and bibliography) took forever to get through. It’s not as funny nor as interesting as I thought it would be.

Byrne’s book sets out to disprove all the shit that profanity-users like myself hear about profanity: only people with
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Thank you to Netgalley and W. W. Norton & Company for an E-ARC of this novel.
I must say I didn't give this book much credit before I read it because 1) new author (always skeptical) and 2) the title seemed a little hard to believe. Emma Byrne does an excellent job on making a case for the science behind bad language. The history of swearing and how is benefits our health is quite incredible. Byrne states in her novel that "swearing has helped to develop the field of neurosciences through stu
Swearing is Good for You is a book on the many largely unknown and underappreciated aspects of swearing and it's adjacent fields of study. The chapters are mostly standalones tied together by the overall theme of the book, and I especially liked the chapters swearing and pain (chapter 2), primate studies and how chimpanzees invented swearing in sign (chapter 5), and the cross cultural study of swearing as a expression of emotion (chapter 7) because the information was compeltely new to me. Not t ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Swearing is Good for You” surpasses simple humor or personal validation. Emma Byrne has included chapters on; neuroscience, pain perception, Tourette’s syndrome, workplace swearing, other primates that swear, gender differences and swearing in other languages. I found her book thorough and well-written. My favorite part of the book is her explanation of British cursing. I will now have a much greater appreciation for BBC television programs!
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this - it's a nice mix funny anecdotes and clear examples of recent research about swearing, from neuroscience, workplace studies, gender studies and so on. I loved the explanations of why we swear (such as avoiding violence, team-bonding) that go beyond just describing how people swear.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Excellent book on the power and utility of swearing. I gave swearing up for awhile when I thought "go away" and "nonsense" were as good as F-off and BS, but there is power in the swears.
S C Worrall
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really funny, and clever, book. I recently had the pleasure to interview the author, Emma Byrne, for National Geographic's weekly column, Book Talk. And as Emma shows in her book, Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, far from being simply lazy language or an abusive lapse in civility, new research reveals that profanity has many positive virtues, from promoting trust and teamwork in the office to increasing our tolerance to pain.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guard your delicate sensibilities and prepare to expand your vocabulary! Full of foul language and subtle British humor, this book takes an in depth look at swearing with studies I had no idea did or should ever exist. A little dry in the middle, but still amazing.
This book discusses and explores the history of swearing and topics like how swearing can diminish pain experienced, can bond people together or strengthen existing relationships, how it is learned/developed alongside language acquisition, and the traditional social gender roles of swearing (men = power/women = impure) and how they are beginning to change. Mostly, it validated my (occasional to moderate) swearing.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny to read, interesting, very well researched and yet easy to follow. Can't wait to read more from Emma.
Reem Mohsen
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was interested in the research and the title was of interest. The book is slow and hard to get through but interesting. Not a book for people not used to non-fiction.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this would be light reading, a funny take on bad language. Instead, it's a scientific treatise on naughty language, citing experiment after experiment that shows what we know. Swearing IS good for us. Be cautioned, however. This book was written by a Brit, so a lot of the swear words and phrases are in British English ("tosser," "wanker," etc.) and the definition of swear words is a bit loose (Do we really consider "darn" to be a swear word? I don't.) Referring to the title, I don't th ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bloody hilarious and fucking fascinating.
Heather Caliri
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book--chock full of surprising research that uses swearing (a convenient inroads into our psyche and emotions) to reveal the inner workings of our brains. I appreciated the demystifying of what swearing is, and how it relates to gender, camraderie, and mental function. Still, I found myself unconvinced of Byrne's primary thesis, summed up in her title. I wished she'd explored some of the darker sides of foul language, like how its blunt edges are used by abusive people. I f ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This brief little book wasn’t just a list of creative ways to swear—which I would have enjoyed—but instead was a fascinating collection of social psychology and neuroscience research about how swearing affects us. Turns out, pretty profoundly (not surprised). And it IS good for you....unless you’re a woman and you’re being judged by your swearing. But the author, a woman in a man’s field, says to lean into it. Make it less taboo. But not so commonplace that it loses its impact.

Oh, it also had s
Alex Meeks
"We will never know for sure where swearing came from, but we do know that we keep reinventing it, just when it seems to be losing its power. We need swearing and, however we might have invented it, I'm fucking glad that we did."

What a delightful and informative book! A little bit of neuroscience, psychology, sociology, history, and linguistics, written in such a way as to be accessible to folks who don't study those fields. Being a popular-science book, you'll learn plenty but it won't be so de
Karen Ashmore
This book was so fucking boring! I thought it was going to be a funny book but it opened with a chapter on neuroscience and swearing. No shit! Then moved on to Tourette’s Syndrome and swearing. You’ve got to be fucking kidding! Then it moved to a few chapters that I thought would be more social commentary but instead went back in history. I am not shitting you. Save yourself some time and just watch a Dave Chappelle show and laugh your swearing ass off!
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is definitely a science book and it took me some time to get into the heavy nature of the early chapters but it was worth the time. Fascinating read that looks at swearing in the context of culture, gender, neuroscience, pain management, workplace and other areas of society. I really learned some interesting facts about why people swear and how swearing can help people handle stress and pain. Really deep read!
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is a bit clickbait-y but the content is good. Turns out chimpanzees who have been taught sign language will develop their own curse words, that cursing can act as pain reliever, and that Pulp Fiction was a pain to translate into Spanish. I’m not sure I’m convinced of her ultimate argument but it was a fun read.
victor harris
May 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think as one other reviewer noted, the title is a tease. There is really very little in the book that addresses why it is good for you. As for the science of swearing, most of the content is dedicated to that topic with virtually a whole catalog of studies. Overall pretty tedious reading and I found little to commend it.
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“We should keep at it. Swearing is a powerful instrument, socially and emotionally. If women and men want to communicate as equals, we need to be equals in the ways in which we are allowed to express ourselves. Sod social censure. Let us allow men to cry and women to swear: we need both means of expression.” 1 likes
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