What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves

Date/Time
04/26/2017 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
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Location
Geisel Library, Seuss Room

Nearly everyone swears—whether it’s over a few too many drinks, in reaction to a stubbed toe, or in flagrante delicto. And yet, we sit idly by as words are banned from television and censored in books. We insist that people excise profanity from their vocabularies and we punish children for yelling the very same dirty words that we’ll mutter in relief seconds after they fall asleep. Swearing, it seems, is an intimate part of us that we have decided to selectively deny.

Benjamin Bergen explores these behaviors in his book, What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. As a Professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego, Bergen studies language and cognition in the laboratory and in the wild.

While writing his 2012 title, Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning, he began work on What the F as a means of procrastination. Now, 7 years in the making, his newest book answers intriguing questions: How can patients left otherwise speechless after a stroke still shout Goddamn! when they get upset? Why is crap vulgar when poo is just childish? Do slurs make you treat people differently? Why is the first word that Samoan children say not mommy but eat shit? And why do we extend a middle finger to flip someone the bird? With over 50 academic publications, Bergen’s goal behind “What the F” is “cognitive science for everyone.”

Join us as we learn why swearing has the unique ability to reveal things about brain function, human evolution, and social cognition.

This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required. For more information, contact Serafin Raya at s1raya@ucsd.edu.

Parking Information

All visitors to the UC San Diego campus are required to display a valid parking pass. The closest parking to the Geisel Library is the Hopkins parking structure. More information about parking on campus.

Driving Directions from North of UC San Diego
1. Take I-5 southbound past the 5/805 split.
2. Take Genesee Avenue exit westbound (right off freeway).
3. Take Genesee Avenue to North Torrey Pines Road.
4. Turn left on North Torrey Pines.
5. Turn left on to North Point Drive.
6. Follow North Point Dr. through the stop signs; as it curves right it will become Hopkins Drive.
7. Continue on Hopkins Drive until you reach Voigt Drive.
8. The Hopkins parking structure is at the corner of Voigt Drive with entrances on both Hopkins and Voigt Drive.

Driving Directions from South of UC San Diego
1. Take I-5 northbound.
2. Take La Jolla Village Drive westbound (left off freeway).
3. La Jolla Village Drive turns into North Torrey Pines Road. Stay on it to North Point Drive.
4. Turn right on North Point Drive.
5. Follow North Point Dr. through the stop signs; as it curves right it will become Hopkins Drive.
6. Continue on Hopkins Drive until you reach Voigt Drive.
7. The Hopkins parking structure is at the corner of Voigt Drive with entrances on both Hopkins and Voigt Drive.

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