AcademicIamA Dr. Ben Bergen, Cognitive Science Professor who studies profanity! AMA about the worst words in the world!
Oct 6th 2016 by bergatron • 22 Questions • 62 Points
I've been a supervisor at Bestbuy for two years. Mobile phones is my main department. I don't know if anyone will ask me anything but I have some time to kill so I thought, why not?
Edit: Posting from my phone so please forgive any formating errors.
Edit: 10:30 PST here! Still answering any questions you guys have! Thanks for all of the questions so far!
Edit: Well it's almost midnight so I think I'm going to hit the hay, if anyone has any more questions I'll get to them in the morning! Goodnight Reddit!
How has studying this topic changed how you swear? I would assume it's hard to reflexively curse the way you might have before starting down this path.
Is the BestBuy employee discount worth trying to get a part time job with BestBuy?
When you scrutinize words very, very closely, they start to lose their impact. I'm basically inured to pretty much all profanity at this point. That means two things. First, I don't really censor myself as much. (Except slurs!) And second, I don't get as much of a thrill out of it. Seeing comedians "working blue"--using lots of swearing--doesn't give me the same rush it once did. I can only imagine what 20 years of making South Park has done to those guys.
Yes! The discount is 5% above cost. On major purchases it's not the biggest but on accessories it is insane! Plus the accommodations are amazing for the core product (like up to 70% off of TVs and such)
What's the most creative use of profanity you've ever heard?
Cables for days with mine.
Profanity is one of the places in the language that you see the most innovation and imagery. There's an Australian term "cuntwaffle" that I'm particularly impressed by in that regard.
How do (did?) profane words begin, why do they have the contextual meaning they do? Why does a word become profane?
Do you know if best buy is going to focus on online shopping or do you think they will open even more stores in the future?
They usually grow out of one of four sources--religion, sex, body functions, and social groups. Minor contributors are death, disease, and animals. Because those concepts carry with them cultural taboos, certain words relating to them also become tainted with the same taboos. So if your culture finds fornication taboo, then it's likely that some or all words describing fornication will also become taboo. Those are the broad strokes, anyway.
I don't see them moving out of the big box locations in the near future. There just isn't anyone out there at this point that provides the same services that we do.
OK i have a two more questions
how big is the gender gap between todays teens and there parents
What words are appropriate in other countries but not here and vise versa
Maybe not on a national level but on a regional level there absolutely is.
This might be the biggest generation gap we've seen. Think about how different the language is that that today's digital natives are exposed to, compared to the heavily censored and vetted language that their parents used. Twitter versus CBS. Not even the same universe. So it's the same thing that every generation experiences, just at the speed of the internet.
Yes like Fry's electronics out here.
they seem to think that the f-word isn't vulgar/obscene
What's your view on it? People seem to be very defensive when I point it out.
How do you react when people steal things and do you think your reaction is different from other bestbuy employees?
The f-word is changing. People under the age of 35 on average rate it less offensive than "homo" but more offensive than "shithead". That wasn't always true, of course. If you project forward 50 years, I'd be surprised it it were more offensive than "damn" is now.
Importantly, it's also not a term of abuse, a slur.
My store went from being am extremely high "shrink" store to being fairly low in the last year. We are all very passionate about people stealing. I don't think there's a person in the store who doesn't get angry when someone tries to pull one past us.
Any way to get free or discounted items?
I once had a relative who claimed to have gotten a brand new laptop at a discount price because the box was busted, I always wanted to ask in person but I don't have the guts. Thanks.
That wouldn't really happen often but Open Box items are all I purchase for TVs and computers. I've gotten some amazing deals on open boxes for both me and my family and friends!