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Words That Shall Not Be Said

McNicol swearing
Chion Wolf (file photo)
Connecticut Public

Profanity used to be about someone swearing insincerely to God. Then the Reformation came along and made profanity about sex and the body.

Today, our most unspeakable words are are slurs against other groups at a time when Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and cancel culture are driving our cultural narrative.

This hour: the past, present, and future of profanity.


  • John McWhorter - Author of Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter — Then, Now, and Forever and host of Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired May 13, 2021.

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Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.
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