Ah, NPR! You have enriched my life beyond measure. You have expanded my horizons, Neal Conan; you have kindled my intellect, Michele Norris. You, Nina Totenberg, you have demystified the mighty Judicial Branch for me; and Ira Glass, your stories have touched my heart. (And yes, I am a member of local KQED, so do not call me. Peter Sagal, you can call me if you want.)
But Robert Siegel, you have outdone yourself this time. This past Monday on All Things Considered, you answered a prayer.
Here's an excerpt from an interview I heard on ATC between Mr. Siegel and Ralph Keyes, author of Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms.
It's well-known that some people who suffer certain kinds of stroke lose their ability to speak, but they don't lose their ability to curse. And this has led linguistic researchers to conclude that swearing comes from a very primitive part of our brain and almost as not language at all.This is good news, people. This means that my inability to control my use of certain colorful words is not actually my fault. Swearing, apparently, is so far deep into our primal being that it's not even language, and cannot be governed as such.
So basically, I can stop worrying about my cursing! This falls under the purview of my oft-repeated Serenity Prayer. This bit of knowledge falls under "The Wisdom to Know the Difference" umbrella and places swearing in the "Things I Cannot Control" column. Thank you Mr. Siegel, thank you Mr. Keyes, and thank you NPR for being an answer to my prayer and for sanctioning my use of the F-word.
Give yourself a treat and go listen to the story. In addition to that kernel about cursing, there are many delightful anecdotes about language and how we use it–always a fun topic for word geeks like me. Maybe you, too?
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