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Stinley's avatar

What do you think of swearing?

Asked by Stinley (11479points) August 22nd, 2014

Why do we have swearing? What makes these words so powerful and shocking? Do all languages and cultures have swearing?

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29 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

I think swearing is neither good or bad. It’s just another kind of expression, a “strong” kind of expression I sometimes swear too. Actually swearing make some people feel better. Like when some people are hurt, a bit swearing is like a pain relief for them. Swearing is a pretty special kind of expression, which in many cases can’t be translated into any languages.

Why do we have swearing?
I don’t know about the origin of swearing. I guess it was invented through frustration and anger.

What makes these words so powerful and shocking?
I think what makes them so powerful and shocking are their “offensive” references. Most swear words refer to dirty things like sex, human’s waste, symbols of disgrace… When hearing the words, people think of these things and get offended.

Do all languages and cultures have swearing?
I think so. There are a handful of swear words in my language. Some are pretty straightforward and have equivalent words in English, but some take a bit of cultural understanding to understand.

thorninmud's avatar

I think there’s a place for it. It grabs attention by making it clear that the speaker feels strongly enough that he’s moved to step outside of socially acceptable language. There are times when that’s quite useful.

To be effective for that purpose, it has to be used sparingly. If you’re known to curse at the drop of a hat, then your cursing really isn’t a sign that you feel strongly about what you’re saying. It’s just a pathetic verbal tic at that point. And too, when these unacceptable words become so ubiquitous that they enter mainstream speech, they lose their power to grab attention at all.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Swearing, to me, is like an abortion. You want to have it and use it if you really need it, but you hope to never have to need it.

I personally very rarely swear, and certainly not in public. But every now and then, the occasion calls for it.

XOIIO's avatar

I think it’s fucking great to get a point across.

longgone's avatar

I hardly ever swear. As a result, people who know me are surprised when I use swear words, which could be useful, I guess. I’m not sure we really need curses, because a loud “HEY!” would probably be just as effective in most cases. I tend to think that most swear words are overused – and, therefore meaningless – anyway.

I’m hardly ever shocked at hearing a swear word. Very often swearing simply annoys me.

The dance we do around swearing kids is ridiculous, in my opinion. All those videos of children blurting out “fuck”, just to get an adult’s reaction, are depressing to me. Not because I get offended, but because I’m bewildered: We make up words, declare them “bad”, and then forbid children to say them.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, all cultures have it. It’s quite human. The words tend to refer to things not spoken of in public: the sex act, excrement, religious names.

I used to have quite the potty mouth, but have stopped using it as I grew up.

ucme's avatar

Some people swear because they have a limited vocabulary, others, to attract attention or emphasise a point. To suggest everyone that swears shares these traits is quite ironic, limited thinking to force home an ignorant point.
To me, swearing just happens, like slang or a form of word play, no particular stimulus or reasoning. That’s it, nothing more complicated than that.

Coloma's avatar

Swearing is like comedy, it’s all about timing.
Coloma trips yesterday and flings 2 flakes of hay to the ground while feeding the horses, exclaims “FUCK!
WHY the FUCK, does everything have to be so FUCKING HARD sometimes!”
Horses tossing their heads and laughing over their stall

hominid's avatar

Steven Pinker has written about and given some interesting talks on swearing.

cheebdragon's avatar

”ᖴυ¢к тнє fυ¢кιиg fυ¢кєяѕ!!!”

It adds to the dramatic effect of a story…..
“She called her a bitch” vs “She called her a mother fucking bitch!”

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Interesting. Why is it we react to severe injury/pain by swearing? I’ve had some major injuries and expletive words are the first thing out of my mouth. Even when I was young.

Coloma's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yep, physical pain and accidents seem to be a big draw for me as well. haha When I pounded that garden stake into my hand last summer…oh man… %^&**#$!!!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Ouch. When I was 12 I dumped a cup of boiling hot water down my chest. The words that came out would make me blush today. On the plus side I also set the record for fastest strip act.

majorrich's avatar

I think colorful euphemisms were invented for when a simple expletive was not enough. Consider the example; you walk in to your kitchen and find it is on fire! Oh my goodness! is simply not good enough. Oh Shit! seems to capture the emotion more.
Say, you storm into your boss’ office with “I will not comply with your direction!” doesn’t have the impact that “Fuck You! your plan is a complete Goatscrew!” I think we all agree the latter captures the angst much better. The English language would be a far less colorful place without strong euphemisms.

dxs's avatar

Anything @thorninmud said. My ex-roommate dropped an f-bomb in nearly every sentence, so when it came time for disputes (a common occurrence with us), his arguments seemed like normal conversations, other than that he was screaming.

KNOWITALL's avatar

NOt my thing unless I’m really mad, then I get scary. People swear too much & it’s not very cute.

Coloma's avatar

@KNOWITALL Agreed, I save mine for the really annoying things. I might go for weeks and not swear, then, there might be occasion to swear 5 times in the same day. lol

dappled_leaves's avatar

For a thoughtful and funny examination of swearing, look no further than Stephen Fry’s Planet Word. NSFW, rather obviously.

fluthernutter's avatar

Swearing, like all language, is just a tool for communication. Depends on who’s using it and how they’re using it.

But it’s not just good for getting a point across. There’s actually been studies of how swearing can increase pain tolerance.

There’s also a study of how the effectiveness of swearing as an analgesic goes down if you swear a lot in everyday life.
(So save up those f*cks and c*cks*ck*rs for when you’re in some real bad pain!)

bomyne's avatar

I think swearing is highly unnecessary and inappropriate in all circumstances. So much so that to the point, I will ignore those that swear at me until they rephrase it to remove the swearing.

You can get your point across without foul language, and people are more willingly to listen if it’s not filth laden. I think the world would be a better place if no one swore.

fluthernutter's avatar

@bomyne In any circumstance? Even if you were in pain and knew that there are actual studies of how it can lessen your pain?

longgone's avatar

^ Are those studies legitimate? I’ve heard of them, but haven’t ever seen a source.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@longgone They talk about it in the video I posted.

longgone's avatar

@dappled_leaves I just had time to watch it. Thanks, I learned a lot – and love Stephen Fry in general. The bit about racial epithets made me think, because those do shock me, I suppose.

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chinchin31's avatar

ha.. yeah all cultures have it. I think it is trashy to use it in public unless you are being stalked. But in some cultures it is more socially acceptable that others to curse in public e.g in Ireland people use the f word alot in casual conversation and often you even hear it at work LOL.

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