Curse words have always had a forbidden feel to them. Even back thousands of years to curse someone or something was serious business.
While most modern curse words are far from the ancient idea of a curse there’s still a certain feel about them that makes you want to say them quietly or behind your hand. The idea of forbidden words or speech is enticing to others, they want to shout them from the roofs to shock society. This is actually what makes curse words so important – society disapproves of them. The history of curse words shows you this because as society evolves many words which were once cursed or forbidden become commonplace or less offensive. 30 years ago “fuck” was strongly offensive and “shit” was the big bad. Nowadays you’ll occasionally hear a toddler utter “shit” and while they’re chastised for it, it’s less outrageous than it would have been because the word has made it onto most television shows. The first time the word “fuck” appeared on TV was in 1965 and while the 60’s and 70’s used the word to shock audiences it’s now become much less impressive.
The evolution of language asides, using cursewords is often connected with people of low intellect or lower class. People who hold themselves to higher oratory standards with a wider vocabulary are often seen as being “above” such tactics. The truth is that most of the cursewords came from playrights and literary men. It’s simply the idea that “better” people wouldn’t do that ~ that has created this falsehood. Science has actually shown that the opposite is true. Studies prove that it’s actually the smarter people who swear more because they are able to use the words in a wider context, demonstrating a higher use of language and a wider vocabulary. Psychologists measure language by being able to create as many different words from a single word stem as possible.
Take the word “fuck”. It can simply be that, or you can make it into fucker, fucking, fucked, fuckered, and then secondary statements like fucked up, fucked around, fucking shit, fucking hell etc. By coming up with as many versions from the one word as you can you’re showing that you have a superior control of language.
The Power of Swearing
Swearing has been shown to improve your stamina and power while working out. By uttering harsh verbal words we are pushed, amped, and feel more energized. Politicians have been known to swear on occasion, and especially recently linguists have been analyzing how much sway a curseword or two can have. Swearing intensifies what a person is saying according to psychologists, making us listen more, or pay attention better, and while it doesn’t affect their credibility we are more likely to favor what a person is saying if they curse a bit.
There are limits to this. Too much cursing damages credibility and makes a person seem excessive.
The power of swearing isn’t limitless. As seen with some of the more common four letter words the more they’re used and the more they’re accepted the less power they have. To keep the power of a curse word it has to remain forbidden. A great example of this is the term “cussed”which is commonly used as a replacement for saying swearing or profanity. Cussed was once a swear word. Boot-licker, quim, and tarnation were also previous no-no words. In fact, quim was akin to the word cunt (also means the same thing) less than 100 years ago yet now few people would even recognize it.
Should You Swear?
Fuck yes. But make sure you’re using it in the right context. There are situations where swearing is still taboo, and unless it’s your intention to either get arrested or kicked out you might want to curb your tongue. Virginia Beach for example, has a law against swearing in public and it’s rigorously enforced. Say the wrong word on Atlantic Boulevard in hearing of a police officer and you’ll be handed a big fat fuckin’ ticket. Go to grandma’s and tell her that she makes the best fucking cake ever and you might get a smack and never have another slice. As long as you know when and wear to swear, cuss on.
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