The culture of swearing

Published 12th November 2012
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by José Antonio Martinez Aviles

Different words with similar meanings: Swear words are a widely used resource because, although they can be offensive, they define the mood of the person using them.

Abuse of strong swear words in our vocabulary is an attack on language and can impoverish our vocabulary, but is it necessary to entirely eliminate the use of our favourite rants and insults?

Have you ever wondered why people so often swear when they walk into a door? … Or when they drop boiling coffee over themselves? … Or when they get scared to death? Your brain searches through its repertoire for the right word for the situation and … WHAM! … the first thing that comes to mind is a swear word.

Although it is repulsive to some, swearing has the following function: it releases endorphins to cope with and overcome adverse situations and possibly even physical pain.

When we have studies which show that swearing can have some analgesic effect, why deprive us of their usage entirely?

It is advisable to only use these words when they are really needed. This increases their “power”. This gives us a reason to cut down on the unnecessary everyday uses of swear words and reserve them for critical moments.

In all languages swearing is often used for situations similar to those discussed above, but it is increasingly being used commonly to speak in the everyday environment and that is what we must avoid.

We’d love to hear your opinions on this controversial subject. Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

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