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'Nine Nasty Words' Explores History, Meaning Of Profanity

WVXU: Nine Nasty Words cover
Penguin RandomHouse
"Nine Nasty Words" by John McWhorter

Author John McWhorter's new book Nine Nasty Words delves into the history and meaning of English profanity, as well as the political differences that often influence those meanings.

John McWhorter is a scholar of linguistics, an associate professor at Columbia University, and a popular author and commentator. His latest book explores one of our language's guilty pleasures: profanity.

But this is not a book that swears for the sake of it.

In a humorous and deeply researched writing, McWhorter explains in Nine Nasty Words: English In The Gutter Then, Now & Forever, how our brain stores profane words differently than more everyday speech, the journey of foul language across three main eras and how the urgency of our use of the mother of all curse words (hint: it starts with F...) is related to humans' natural instinct to flee from danger.

McWhorter joined Cincinnati Edition to talk about the book.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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Michael Monks brings a broad range of experience to WVXU-FM as the host of Cincinnati Edition, Cincinnati Public Radio's weekday news and information talk show.