Expletives: Neurolinguistic and neurobehavioral perspectives on swearing

D. Van Lancker, J. L. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Severe aphasia, adult left hemispherectomy, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS), and other neurological disorders have in common an increased use of swearwords. There are shared linguistic features in common across these language behaviors, as well as important differences. We explore the nature of swearing in normal human communication, and then compare the clinical presentations of selectively preserved, impaired and augmented swearing. These neurolinguistic observations, considered along with related neuroanatomical and neurochemical information, provide the basis for considering the neurobiological foundation of various types of swearing behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-104
Number of pages22
JournalBrain Research Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Aphasia
  • Basal ganglia
  • Coprolalia
  • Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome
  • Limbic system
  • Neural basis of behavior cursing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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