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  • Published: 2 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9780593188798
  • Imprint: Avery
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $48.00

Nine Nasty Words

English in the Gutter



One of the preeminent linguists of our time examines the realms of language that are considered shocking and taboo in order to understand what imbues curse words with such power--and why we love them so much.

A New York Times bestseller

One of the preeminent linguists of our time examines the realms of language that are considered shocking and taboo in order to understand what imbues curse words with such power--and why we love them so much.

Profanity has always been a deliciously vibrant part of our lexicon, an integral part of being human. In fact, our ability to curse comes from a different part of the brain than other parts of speech--the urgency with which we say "f&*k!" is instead related to the instinct that tells us to flee from danger.

Language evolves with time, and so does what we consider profane or unspeakable. Nine Nasty Words is a rollicking examination of profanity, explored from every angle: historical, sociological, political, linguistic. In a particularly coarse moment, when the public discourse is shaped in part by once-shocking words, nothing could be timelier.

  • Published: 2 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9780593188798
  • Imprint: Avery
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $48.00

About the author

John McWhorter

Date: 2005-03-24
John McWhorter is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an associate Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley. He is the author of The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, as well as a book about black English, The Word on the Street.

Date: 2002-09-17
John McWhorter is Associate Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley.

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