Curses!

As with most cultural pseudo-controversies, I’ve been fascinated and annoyed with both sides of the “naughty words” hullabaloo. Steven Pinker offers the best popular analysis I’ve seen, in The New Republic.

What the Fuck: Why We Curse:

The response is not only emotional but involuntary. It’s not just that we don’t have earlids to shut out unwanted sounds. Once a word is seen or heard, we are incapable of treating it as a squiggle or noise; we reflexively look it up in memory and respond to its meaning, including its connotation.

(via Daring Fireball)