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The Worst F&#%ing Words Ever

The Worst F&#%ing Words Ever

The Worst F&#%ing Words Ever

Benjamin Bergen is a member of UC San Diego Design Lab, professor of cognitive science at UCSD, and director of the Language and Cognition Lab, where he studies how our minds compute meaning and how talking interferes with safe driving—among many other things that don’t need to be bleeped. His latest book is What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. He calls it “a book-length love letter to profanity.” You’ve been warned.

So, what the… heck?  Why study profanity?
Language is changing. We’re exposed to a wider and wider swath of language than we might have been twenty years ago. That includes slang, it includes new vocabulary embraced by young people, and it includes profanity. We would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t consider all these different types of language as part of our research purview. What people do with language tells us things about how humans learn language, how their brains process language, how they use language for social purposes.

Your book identifies four broad categories into which profanity seems to fall.
When you look across languages and cultures, the taboo words – the words people decide are inappropriate for formal contexts or inappropriate around kids, or inappropriate in general – tend to be drawn from four categories of human experience: from religious concepts; from sexual activities and sexual relations; from bodily functions and the body parts that perform those functions; and then, finally, from terms for groups of other people. You find in language after language that these tend to be the sources of taboo language. It’s not surprising because these, of course, are domains of human experience that themselves are quite taboo…

Click to read the full article on Triton Magazine.

Benjamin Bergen is a member of UC San Diego Design Lab, professor of cognitive science at UCSD, and director of the Language and Cognition Lab, where he studies how our minds compute meaning and how talking interferes with safe driving—among many other things that don’t need to be bleeped. His latest book is What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. He calls it “a book-length love letter to profanity.” You’ve been warned.

So, what the… heck?  Why study profanity?
Language is changing. We’re exposed to a wider and wider swath of language than we might have been twenty years ago. That includes slang, it includes new vocabulary embraced by young people, and it includes profanity. We would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t consider all these different types of language as part of our research purview. What people do with language tells us things about how humans learn language, how their brains process language, how they use language for social purposes.

Your book identifies four broad categories into which profanity seems to fall.
When you look across languages and cultures, the taboo words – the words people decide are inappropriate for formal contexts or inappropriate around kids, or inappropriate in general – tend to be drawn from four categories of human experience: from religious concepts; from sexual activities and sexual relations; from bodily functions and the body parts that perform those functions; and then, finally, from terms for groups of other people. You find in language after language that these tend to be the sources of taboo language. It’s not surprising because these, of course, are domains of human experience that themselves are quite taboo…

Click to read the full article on Triton Magazine.

Benjamin Bergen is a member of UC San Diego Design Lab, professor of cognitive science at UCSD, and director of the Language and Cognition Lab, where he studies how our minds compute meaning and how talking interferes with safe driving—among many other things that don’t need to be bleeped. His latest book is What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. He calls it “a book-length love letter to profanity.” You’ve been warned.

So, what the… heck?  Why study profanity?
Language is changing. We’re exposed to a wider and wider swath of language than we might have been twenty years ago. That includes slang, it includes new vocabulary embraced by young people, and it includes profanity. We would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t consider all these different types of language as part of our research purview. What people do with language tells us things about how humans learn language, how their brains process language, how they use language for social purposes.

Your book identifies four broad categories into which profanity seems to fall.
When you look across languages and cultures, the taboo words – the words people decide are inappropriate for formal contexts or inappropriate around kids, or inappropriate in general – tend to be drawn from four categories of human experience: from religious concepts; from sexual activities and sexual relations; from bodily functions and the body parts that perform those functions; and then, finally, from terms for groups of other people. You find in language after language that these tend to be the sources of taboo language. It’s not surprising because these, of course, are domains of human experience that themselves are quite taboo…

Click to read the full article on Triton Magazine.

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“When I would visit him in retirement homes, I would see people who needed walkers and wouldn’t use them because it was a stigma,” said Norman. “They were so ugly and it sort of shouts out to the world, ‘Hey I’m old and crippled and therefore probably feeble minded as well,’ right? Well no, it’s wrong. And so I noticed that, but I didn’t pay much attention until I myself reached my eighties and started looking at my friends and other things and realised that, yes, people shunned a lot of things that are being made to help them because they don’t like to admit publicly they have problems.” - Don Norman
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"Say you’re getting a call from someone acting erratic … like what would a drone be able to see that would discern a person screaming and waving their hands around as someone who needs intervention by the police, versus a mental health team?" said Lilly Irani, a professor of communication and technology at UC San Diego (and Design Lab faculty).

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SAN DIEGO-TIJUANA - Today the World Design Organization (WDO) announced the San Diego-Tijuana region has been selected as the World Design Capital (WDC) for 2024.

The selection of the San Diego-Tijuana joint bid makes it the first binational World Design Capital in WDO history. While the designation is for both cities as a united region, San Diego is now the first U.S. city ever to receive the WDC designation. Tijuana is the second city in Mexico to hold the title, following Mexico City in 2018.

"We did it!" said Don Norman, founder of UC San Diego’s Design Lab (now retired) and co-founder and Board advisor to the Design Forward Alliance (DFA). "Designers, city officials, and organizations in both the Tijuana and San Diego regions collaborated to make our binational community the World Design Capital for 2024. It shows the power of design as a way of thinking, to address important societal issues, and as a source of innovation for companies, organizations, and educational communities at all levels. We have built a permanent coalition of our communities to address civic and climate challenges, to grow our industrial sectors, and to support a strong culture of cross-border design."

Opinion: Becoming a World Design Capital would improve life in San Diego-Tijuana

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I believe that San Diego is one of the world’s greatest cities, and together with our sister city Tijuana, we form a dynamic, multicultural area unlike anywhere else. Both as a lifelong San Diegan and the mayor of San Diego, I am proud that our city is one of two finalists in the running to be selected as the World Design Capital in 2024. Earning this designation would highlight the unique character of our binational region and show the entire world that our diversity is our strength.

Just as design has continued to address complex challenges at our border and between our cities, we continue to improve the quality of life in San Diego through thoughtful, human-centered design. The transformation of the Plaza de Panama at Balboa Park, Waterfront Park and Liberty Station are only a few examples of how we’ve begun to think about public space differently in San Diego over the last decade.
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