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2020-02-20 20:42    来源:网络        阅读量:0



Profane language

Foul play --- Swearing Is Good forYou.

摘自TheEconomist January 27th 2018


IN THESE potty-mouthed times, when certain world leaders sling profanity about with abandon, many observers naturally lament thedebasement of speech. But instead of clutching pearls, why not find a silver lining? Learning more about when, how and why people swear offers insight into everything from the human brain to a society’s taboos. Trash talking even affords some real physical and social benefits, as Emma Byrne argues in “Swearing Is Good for You”.

段落大意:大部分人认为说脏话是语言的堕落,但是Emma Byrne认为谩骂其实有好处。

potty-mouthed 满嘴脏话的

potty mouth满口脏话的人

sling v. (随意而稍用力地)扔,掷,抛

e.g. Lou slung his suitcase onto the bed.


profanity n. 亵渎的语言;脏话

profane adj.亵渎的 v.亵渎

with abandon 恣意地,放纵地

abandon v.抛弃 n. 放任

lament v. 哀悼,悲叹

e.g. The nation lamented the death of its great war leader.


debasement n. 贬低,堕落

debase v.贬低(声望)

e.g. The medical profession has been debased by these revelations.


a silver lining 一线希望

taboo n. 禁忌

trash talking 废话,脏话


For all their shock value, swear words are practical and elastic, capable of threatening aggression or coaxing a laugh. Among peers, profanebanter is often a sign of trust—a way of showing solidarity with a larger group. Critics may say such language reveals boorish thinking or a limited vocabulary, but swearing is often impressively strategic, and a fluency in crass language typically correlates with verbal fluency in general.


elastic adj. 有弹性的

elasticity n.弹性,灵活性

aggression n. 攻击性

e.g. Television violence can encourage aggression in children.


coax v.哄骗,劝诱

banter n.玩笑,打趣

solidarity n.团结

solidary adj.团结一致的

boorish adj.粗野的

boor n.粗野的人

strategic adj.策略的

crass adj.粗鲁的


Because the language learnt in infancy has the greatest emotional resonance, swearing in your mother tongue always feels most powerful, even among the most fluent multilinguals. As swearing functions as a complex signal, subtle enough either to amuse or to offend, these wordsvary according to what a culture deems unmentionable. Russian, for example, “has an almost infinite number” of ways to swear, most of them involving the honour of your mother. As for Japanese, because the culture is largely free of an excretory taboo (hence the poo emoji), there is noequivalent of “shit”. Yet the word kichigai (loosely translated as “retard”) is usually bleeped on television. Translators often struggle to rendercurse words and insults in other languages, as their emotional heft tends to be culturally circumscribed. For example, Westerners were more amused than alarmed by reports of an Iraqi minister declaring “A curse be upon your moustache!” to a Kuwaiti diplomat in 2003.


emotional resonance情感共鸣

a traditionthat has little resonance in the 21st century


vary v.变化



aqualification which is equivalent to a degree


bleep v.(发出)哔哔声

render v.(以某种方式)表达;致使

The blow to his head was strong enough to render him unconscious.


heft n.重要性,重量 v.举起

circumscribe v.限制


Women who curse face a double standard. Although swearing in a male-dominated profession can be a short cut to acceptance, women are also more likely to be shunned or seen as untrustworthy—even by women—when they sound like stevedores. This is not only because women are expected to be more polite than men, Ms. Byrne suggests, but also because swearing tends to be associated with sexuality. Since women are judged more harshly than men for their sexual adventures, bad language leads to assumptions of bad behaviour.



dominate v.主宰,统治

shun v.避开,躲避

e.g. Victimsof the disease found themselves shunned by society.


stevedore n.搬运工

harshly adv.严厉地,苛刻的

e.g. Histheory met with harshcriticism from colleagues.



Stoicism in the face of pain may seem noble, but swearing a blue streak is apparently more helpful. A study of volunteers forced to plunge their hands in ice-cold water found that those who swore kept their hands submerged for longer than those who were stuck bellowing aneutral word. By making people feel more aggressive— and therefore, perhaps, more powerful— swearing seems to improve the  tolerance of pain.



stoic adj.斯多葛派的,禁欲的

a blue streak连珠炮似的讲话

e.g. e always talks a blue streak.


bellow v.吼叫,怒吼

neutral adj.中立的,中性的

原文例句:A study ofvolunteers forced to plunge their hands in ice-cold water found that those whoswore kept their hands submerged for longer than those who were stuck bellowing aneutral word.

翻译:由志愿者所做的研究—志愿者被迫将手浸入冰水中-- 发现那些咒骂的人要比那些只能大声说些中性词语的人停留在水下的时间久一些。


A self-described swearing evangelist, Ms. Byrne is certainly bullish on the merits of bad words. But in her eagerness to prove how “fucking useful” they are, she sometimes overplays her hand. She argues that swearing makes people less likely to be physically violent, but offers little evidence to back this up. She commends the way piss-taking can help people work together more effectively, but largely overlooks the way this approach can alienate minorities. She also occasionally trades empiricism for hyperbole, as when she declares: “I don’t think we would have made it as the world’s most populous primate if we hadn’t learned to swear.”



bullish adj.乐观的,有信心的;股市行情看涨的

e.g. He’s very bullish about thecompany’s prospects.


overplay her hand过高估计自己的力量

overplay v.夸大,把…做得过头

underplay v.对…轻描淡写;淡化…重要性

commend v.(公开)赞扬,推崇,推荐 同:recommend


alienate v.疏远






Still, “Swearing Is Good for You” is an entertaining and often enlightening book. It may not quite stand up the bold claim of its title, but Ms. Byrne’s readers are sure to come away with a fresh appreciation of language at its most foul.



e.g. This isan entertaining yet thought-provoking film.



foul adj.污秽的 n.犯规