The Utility and Ubiquity of Taboo Words

  title={The Utility and Ubiquity of Taboo Words},
  author={Timothy B. Jay},
  journal={Perspectives on Psychological Science},
  pages={153 - 161}
  • Timothy B. Jay
  • Published 2009
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Perspectives on Psychological Science
Taboo words are defined and sanctioned by institutions of power (e.g., religion, media), and prohibitions are reiterated in child-rearing practices. Native speakers acquire folk knowledge of taboo words, but it lacks the complexity that psychological science requires for an understanding of swearing. Misperceptions persist in psychological science and in society at large about how frequently people swear or what it means when they do. Public recordings of taboo words establish the commonplace… Expand

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