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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and thought-provoking
I may simply be saying something about my sense of humour, but I found this short book, not only very informative and thought-provoking, but also very funny indeed; it had me laughing aloud on several occasions.

The most significant (and, to me, surprising) messages which I took away were, firstly, that swearing may involve parts of the brain which aren't...
Published on 8 Feb 2012 by Will Stevens

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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting diversion albeit with no true purpose
It isn't about television and there aren't seven words, but this is an essay about obscene language. There are intelligent questions and ruminations about why we swear and how language becomes offensive for different people - and how offensive language can also be downgraded.

Pinker knows a lot about the brain and about the structure of English and this book is...
Published on 7 Oct 2008 by Mark Slattery


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting diversion albeit with no true purpose, 7 Oct 2008
By 
Mark Slattery (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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It isn't about television and there aren't seven words, but this is an essay about obscene language. There are intelligent questions and ruminations about why we swear and how language becomes offensive for different people - and how offensive language can also be downgraded.

Pinker knows a lot about the brain and about the structure of English and this book is half playful and half serious when it explores modern attitudes to language. It is more of an exploration than a thesis, because he does not come to firm conclusions or offer a prescription as a result of his thoughts. We do get some neat quotes (Lenny Bruce comes out King) and some smart ironies and illogicalities. The incredible unintended self-satire of the Clean Airwaves Act has to be read to be appreciated.

The most perceptive quote for me is C. S. Lewis' observation that, "As soon as you deal with [sex] explicitly, you are forced to choose between the language of the nursery, the gutter, and the anatomy class." And my favourite rudism is by Lyndon Johnson: "He wouldn't know how to pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the heel."

Pinker sometimes states as fact things I wanted to take issue with (- is it proven that men lie more to get sex than women do or is that simply his supposition? I don't think I agree wholly with him about intransitive verbs either) - and on page 38 he asks himself a question he barely tries to answer. He could have looked at stigma words like racist and paedophile, which would have been a good fit for his subject.

The end result is a book that is an enjoyable read, intelligently written, but not a thesis or even a comprehensive examination. But that is not a killer criticism as it is a very illuminating read and on a subject we can all relate to. Or so, at least, seemd to think the people who read it over my shoulder on the tube: they got an eyeful.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and thought-provoking, 8 Feb 2012
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I may simply be saying something about my sense of humour, but I found this short book, not only very informative and thought-provoking, but also very funny indeed; it had me laughing aloud on several occasions.

The most significant (and, to me, surprising) messages which I took away were, firstly, that swearing may involve parts of the brain which aren't involved in normal speech, and, secondly, that, in many contexts, swear words can't be regarded as parts of speech such as adjectives, or adverbs ... or anything. For example, this is illustrated by the fact that they are sometimes inserted into other words, as in abso-bloody-lutely.

In a word, the book is as good as you'd expect a book by Steven Pinker to be. I hesitate to say 'strongly recommended', because there are many people to whom I wouldn't recommended it at all! However, if you have got as far as reading these reviews, then I think you're likely to find the book interesting and informative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Acute, precise, accurate, stimulating, 4 April 2014
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This review is from: The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television (Kindle Edition)
Pinker's arguments are throughout all of the above. The precision of his arguments, leavened always by a touch of humour, is what gives readers the satisfying payoff. I couldn't recommend this little book more highly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars **** good, 26 Feb 2014
By 
Brian Yates (Ormskirk, Lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television (Kindle Edition)
Everything Pinker has written is clear, convincing, impoprtant and entertaining; this guide to the science, philosophy and linguistics of swearing has all the erudition regular readers would expect, though we've read large parts of it before in other guises. If you've never read Pinker, or you simply need to know why we swear, this is a **** good plac eto start.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dammit!, 25 July 2013
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Mrs. R. G. Sedgwick "Rosie" (Chester England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television (Kindle Edition)
A small book with a wide scope: this entertaining piece is a scholarly but accessible look at the reasons behind why, and how, we use swearwords.
En route it sheds light on possible mechanisms for Tourette's syndrome, as well as giving us some fine and most satisfying examples of curses and enough terms of insult to keep us all fluent for years.
I loved it!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy read of a serious subject, 15 Feb 2009
Not at all difficult and very informative. Shoots down some sacred cows but acknowledges the need for serious expletives.
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