Why the F$#% do we swear so much to explain ourselves?

There is nothing more satisfying than yelling the F-bomb at the top of your lungs in the middle of a bustling city midway through a really rubbish day.

Ignoring the dagger stares that reflect off mothers’ faces as they walk their children home from school, it’s the best f-ing therapy ever!

Some would argue that lowering ourselves into using such vocabulary echoes a lack of imagination, but I beg to differ. I believe that when the majority of us choose to use ‘F***’ (or worse), we are feeling very imaginative during that moment. So much so, in fact that we probably (definitely) visualise the moron who drove us into this irritated temper. Not only have we just used an imflamintary phrase, we have also blamed our behaviour on somebody else.

Personally, I believe that only the intelligent ones choose to use such words when in that fit of rage. Only an ignoramus would opt to bottle it all in, which only ever delays the inevitable eruption that comes from pent-up emotions that have been brewing for too long. However, that’s somewhat biased of me to say considering I can’t get through a stressful day without scaring people in the street as the result of my alternative method of therapy. Don’t judge me, there are worse things you can shout out to a mass audience, Louis Smith (cough cough).

A recent study reported in the Express has discovered that people who regularly swear are more likely to be in possession of a better vocabulary and have better articulation than those who are more restrained when it comes to cursing. 

US-based psychologists set out to examine the age-old myth, or the Poverty of Vocabulary (POV) concept, that people who have a colourful tongue have a worse-grasp of words than those who don’t swear.

The researchers asked participants to say as many different swear words as possible in one minute. Participants were then asked to complete similar tasks, such as listing as many types of animals as they can in a 60-second time period.

Those in the experiment who were able to recall a greater amount of swear words were seen to be able to express themselves better, more confidently and could detect detail subtle nuances in language – therefore breaking the POV myth.

In order to try and justify my – and probably your – occasional ‘out of character’ actions, there’s actually a science behind the art of swearing. Consider this a good deed on my behalf. This is the ultimate ‘get out of jail card’ when you have just lost your tongue in a frustrating sentence. Next time you get told off for your potty mouth, just blame science. If that fails, you can just blame me.

In order for a word to qualify as a swear word, by its very nature it must have the potential to offend. We’re talking about crossing a cultural taboo here. Basically, in order to be an A* student in the socially unmentionable, choose words that relate to topics people don’t feel comfortable talking about. Sex is a classic taboo subject as is disease and excrement, which has another commonly used word.

Next is the word itself. It has to have humour. You can’t go round calling someone a ‘poo’ or a ‘wee wee’ – it just doesn’t work. Think of how the word sounds. The perfect swear word will have the perfect vowel-to-consonant ratio. How the word ends is also important. A cutting ‘K’ for example will be impactful as it showers offensive into what was probably a civilised conversation.

Our often unconscious decision to swear is actually proven to be catharsis. Apparently, it increases the ability to endure pain. Psychology expert John M. Grohol believes cursing in the right places can heal people. “It often frees us of the feelings of anger or frustration we hold and allows expression for them,” he explains. “It can also be a useful substitute to physical violence.”

In other circumstances, it can also add texture to the point you are trying to make. Using carefully chosen adjectives can take your sentence from ‘awesome’ to ‘[insert inflammatory word here] incredible’!

I’m impressed with myself. It wasn’t easy, but I went through an entire article about the joys of swearing without using one little naughty word. Result! 


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