The Science of Swearing

posted in: The Science Behind, Videos | 0

What is the point of bleeping out words if you know what I’m saying and it still carries the same meaning? Maybe it’s because there’s a possibility that I’m not saying s**t, maybe I saying mitt or pit. Either way many parents say they want to shield their kids from cuss words by censoring them out on TV. However 2/3 of parents who swear say it’s not ok for their kids to swear, that’s pretty hypocritical.

Pg-13 movies are allowed to have f-word, this means that it is socially acceptable for a 13 year old like myself to listen to profanity, but yet most people would agree that it is not ok for a 13 year old to swear. But this is different worldwide. Bleeping is only used in English and Japanese. This means that the use, acceptability, and attitude towards swear words are different everywhere you go.

In English the words that people consider cuss words can vary. We can look at George Carlin’s 7 dirty words that are not allowed to be said on public TV (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_dirty_words). In a court case it was ruled that the FCC could regulate, but not ban profanity on public TV. This means that they can shield it from children, and ensure that unwanted speech does enter ones home, but like I said before this is highly unlikely, as a kid cant be shielded from the real world forever.All of those 7 dirty words only have one syllable, or one syllable as a root word. But why is this? No one really knows, but many speculate its because its easy to say during a point of anger and frustration, or maybe its to distinguish social acceptable words from ones that are not. As feces (2- syllables) is ok, but s**t (1- syllable is not).

Most swear words originate from gross things; eventually a word describing a gross thing can in it of itself be gross. Once a word has gotten to the point where its meaning is detached from the words it is a swear word, if I call someone an @ss I’m not referring to a donkey. So maybe the reason why don’t we bleep out words like forsake, butt, feces, and other undoubtedly gross and horrible words is because we need words with attached meanings. But we also need swear words with detached meanings, as they can be beneficial. Swearing is actually more linked to emotions than words. The same area of the brain that swear words originate from are probably were the first caveman words were spoken from. And scientist Steven Pinker who studied this would actually advise people to swear if they hurt themselves, as it alleviates some pain.

In conclusion I feel like cursing all has to do with context. For me cursing at somebody is an extremely rude, mean and offensive, however if I were to stub my toes and cuss at the table I don’t think it has that same degree of severity. I’m not going to sit here and say that cussing is good or bad, but they can change the whole context of a sentence to convey urgency, extremeness, or even social acceptance. But with 80-90 swear words spoken a day by adults there defiantly here to stay.

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Chase Wiley is a 14 year-old from Florida who loves science and fishing.

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