Why Do People Swear?
You hear foul language everywhere from people of all ages. Not everyone is accustomed to such filthy language but it is a part of the culture. Everyone utters a cuss word or two during their daily lives. Some people use it casually and others say it in frustration.
That's why it got me thinking, why do people swear?
The Taboo Words
The "7 dirty words" uttered by late Comedian George Carlin was not a secret at all in the 1970s but saying it on-the-air on television or radio was considered shocking at the time. Carlin's infamous list featured the words "Sh*t," "Piss," "F**k," "C**t," "Co**s**cker," "Motherf***er," and "Tits." Piss and Tits are not "blocked out" because these words have been somewhat accepted by society through the years. As for the others, those words are still listed as taboo.
Not included on the list are other words like G*dammit, f*ggot, and the "N-word." These words are considered blasphemous to Christians, the gay community, and the black community respectively but it becomes offensive based on how it is being used and what group is using it. For others not from those groups, they consider these words to be "hateful" language.
Most people agree that the WAY you use the word may be considered offensive to others.
Swearing Represents a Range of Emotions
Whether you are happy or angry, people swear to express themselves. Of course, most people curse when they are angry than when they are happy.
People utter cuss words when in frustration or upset about something as a way to release their emotions. Most psychologists agree that swearing provides a stress-release for most individuals, releasing their anger or surprise in the process.
In the case of hateful speech used during verbal abuse or sexual harrassment, psychologists are against the use of graphic language that is intentionally used to put-down their intended victim. However, cursing and name-calling in less-severe situations is a better substitute than actual physical violence.
The Power of "Bad Words"
When we learn a new language, we want to learn the "bad words" first. Using graphic language is another way to be accepted within a group or club. For some groups, it is a type of communication or slang that makes members relate to one another.
Most use graphic words to emphasize a certain point in the conversation. Stand-up comedians use swear words all the time to make a funny point. Is it any wonder why foul-mouthed comedians get a larger audience than the "clean comedians?" Go figure.
Children use bad words as a sense of power. Imagine the first time you as a child used a cuss word and found how "powerful" you were at the time. Adults use swearing words to exert power over another person. Psycholgoist John Grohol, founder of Psych Central, found that people who used swear words frequently have similar traits to a person who is domineering, hostile, and possessing a Type A personality.
There is a "Time and Place" to use Graphic Language
It is up to people to decide when to use curse words when they are in a public area or at a place of business or in a church/synagogue/temple/mosque. Using inappropriate words in certain places all depends if the host says its okay or if the setting permits it. To put it simply, use your best judgement.
Foul language during a business meeting with executives or greeting visitors in your home or welcoming a "man of the cloth" at a conference would not be a good time to utter an expletive. If you're going to a party where swearing is accepted or a gathering of adult people of different ages, then go ahead and release one! Use your best judgement when near children or at a church social or with executives at an after-meeting dinner.
So before you unleash a "bad word" you can consider two things: do it and be subject to someone's wrath or use the saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it."
- Why Do We Swear? | World of Psychology
Why do people swear? Why does using a swear word make us feel better? How do we choose which word we use? Luckily for you, the Association of Psychological