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Bernard M -- Taipei English Tutor

Bernard M - English Conversation / TOEFL / IELTS 一對一英文會話

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why we curse. What the F***? by Steven Pinker

Normally I would avoid this subject matter, but it's about language and Steven Pinker is a world-renowned scientist.
The strange emotional power of swearing--as well as the presence of linguistic taboos in all cultures-- suggests that taboo words tap into deep and ancient parts of the brain. In general, words have not just a denotation but a connotation: an emotional coloring distinct from what the word literally refers to, as in principled versus stubborn and slender versus scrawny. The difference between a taboo word and its genteel synonyms, such as shit and feces, cunt and vagina, or fucking and making love, is an extreme example of the distinction. Curses provoke a different response than their synonyms in part because connotations and denotations are stored in different parts of the brain.

Selected Vocabulary

taboo n. - 禁忌,忌諱
genteel adj. - 彬彬有禮的;有教養的
swear v. - 咒罵; 發誓
connotation n. - 含蓄;言外之意
denotation n. - 意義;本義
synonym n. - 同義字
curse v. - 詛咒,咒罵
curses
n. - 詛咒,咒語





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