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639: Sexy Words

Words and language have power. Serious power. That pretty much goes without saying, but the magic power that words have is, more and more often, being proven in scientific research.

In 2012, research took a look at how the mind interacts with language, metaphor, and experience. On an episode of IEEE’s podcast said in 2012, quote:

Dr. Krishnankutty Sathian—or Krish, as his colleagues and friends call him—is a professor of neurology, rehab medicine, and psychology, and he’s a coauthor of a new study with the title, “Metaphorically Feeling: Comprehending Textural Metaphors Activates Somatosensory Cortex,” published last month in the journal Brain & Language.

Then, as Krish explained:

So clearly the classical language areas of the brain are active to process what we’re reading or listening to, but the work that you talked about that we just did, as well as work by other people, has increasingly begun to reveal that abstract concepts in general and metaphors in particular are grounded in, as you mentioned, our sensory motor experience, and therefore we also get activity in the sensory parts of the brain or the motor parts of the brain as might be relevant for the concept at hand.

Or, put another way, when we hear words that are related to a physical activity or physical sensation, the part of our brain that processes that physical sensation lights up just as much as any part of our brain that processes language.

Which, when you start talking about words or turns of phrase that are sexy, gets kind of fun to think about. The words that are sexy can vary by person, place, cultural context, and relationship context.

There are really only two things I know for sure. One, that anything around the enthusiastic communicating o or requesting of consent is likely to be very – very sexy.

And two – do not, under any circumstances that have not been already discussed, follow the advice of Maxim and say “hot pocket” in a sexy context.