Ugly language on the outside, pretty helpful on the inside

How about that fucking weather eh? Oh shit, pardon my “French”. There I go again! Dammit. Okay, as you can tell the occasional swear word may slip through my filter now and then… Or maybe a little more often than occasionally. But, is that really such a terrible thing?

Swearing is a way of expressing yourself that you can't do with the standard English language. Photo by Christina Manocchio
Swearing is a way of expressing yourself that you can’t do with the standard English language. Photo by Christina Manocchio

Swearing is an interesting concept to look into, a form of language that is outside of the realm of the standard English language. Some swear words are just originally known words interpreted in a different way, some swear words can be interpreted as many different forms of profanity depending on the use of the word, and some people interpret swear words in different ways than others. There ought to be a dictionary for all this!

I believe swearing is its own language in itself; a way of expressing yourself that you cannot do with the standard English language. Although the majority of swear words are used in an emotional state of anger, they also provide emphasis and sarcasm in certain situations. Such as my “French” above. If one were to say “how about that weather eh?” you do not know how exactly they are referring to the weather, but to add that “fucking” in there, it puts the sentence into more context; the weather has obviously not been great. Or even my following statement, without the “shit” one would not know that I am taken aback from my previous statement.

Anger is a very extreme emotion that many people do not know how to express properly. I think swear words can do that for a person, relieve their built up tension and provide a substitute for something more extreme such as violence.

What I did not know, was that swearing has actually been proven to make one appear more credible. Three studies were explained in a 2005 journal article called “Appearing credible? Swearing helps!” by Eric Rassin and Simone Van Der Heijden of Erasmus University in the Netherlands. Each tested whether the use of swearing increased or decreased the believability of a statement, first by asking the respondents whether or not swearwords made a statement more credible, then by having participants pick between two testimonies – one including swear words and one not. The results showed that in the first study respondents found swearwords a sign of deceit, but when put into action the majority of participants chose the testimonies with swearwords. Otherwise proving that people may think swearwords are a bad thing, but in reality swearwords create a sense of trust.

Another interesting study was reported in a 2009 journal article called “Swearing as a Response to Pain” by Richard Stephens, John Atkins and Andrew Kingston of Keele University in England. This study had participants submerge their hands in icy cold water and rated their pain tolerance with and without the use of swearing. The results showed that participants withstood the painful experiment significantly longer if they repeated a swearword. Cool right?

Finally a 2008 journal article called “The Pragmatics of Swearing” by authors Timothy Jay and Kristen Janschewitz summed up what I have already assumed. The appropriateness of swearing is completely contextual. The study asked college students on the offensiveness of swearing in certain hypothetical situations. The answers varied depending on the speaker-listener relationship, the social physical context, and the particular swearword used. As goes most things in life, there is a time and a place for everything and moderation is essential. While this is foul play on the surface, the reality proves that swearing can be beneficial in the way you live your life.

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