Podcast 85: Jean Berko Gleason’s disgusting word list

Jean Berko Gleason is personally disgusted — disgusted, she will have you know! — by certain words. Gleason, one of the world’s great linguistics/psychology researchers, reveals her lovingly collected list of words that disgust her. That’s what you’ll hear in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

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This week, Marc Abrahams discusses disgusting words — that is, words that disgust one particular person, that person being Boston University psychology professor emerita Jean Berko Gleason. Early in her career, she gained fame for inventing the WUG Test. The WUG test revealed that young children have impressively subtle abilities to learn — and use — new bits of language.

This photo shows Professor Gleason delivering half of the traditional Ig Nobel “Goodbye, Goodbye” speech, at the 2015 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University:


The mysterious John Schedler or the shadowy Bruce Petschek perhaps did the sound engineering this week.

The Improbable Research podcast is all about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK — real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere —research that may be good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless. CBS distributes it, on the CBS Play.it web site, and on iTunes and Spotify).

BONUS: A nice appreciation of Jean and her words, in the Huffington Post: “These Are The Words Even A Linguist Hates — This goes way beyond ‘moist.’