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Why do people swear?

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-39082467

bbc.com

Why do people swear?
The English language contains an alphabet soup of swear words. Those of a sweary disposition can draw upon the A-word, the B-word, the C-word, the F-word, the S-word, the W-word and many more. So here's a puzzle - if you see the F-word spelled out with all four letters, are you more offended than when you read F with asterisks?

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Swear words

Swear words
By definition, swear words are offensive. If a word, over time, ceases to be offensive, then it falls out of use as a swear word.

We will often use swear words to vent some emotion. Swearing also centers on taboos. Around the world, swear words will tend to cluster around certain topics: lavatorial matters, sex, religion.

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Swearing benefits

  • Swearing helps mitigate pain.
  • Those who speak more than one language, report that swearing in their first language carries a bigger emotional punch.
  • A few blue words, uttered in a good-natured way, indicates and encourages intimacy.
  • A recent study suggests that people who swear are perceived as more trustworthy.

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Why people swear

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Swearing: a universal constant

Swearing is not just for the uneducated or people of a lower socio-economic class -  it knows no social boundaries in its expression.

Personality research suggests that people who swear more, score higher on traits such as extraversion, dominance, hostility and Type A personalities.

Swearing

Swearing is usually regarded as simply lazy language or an abusive lapse in civility.

New research reveals that profanity has many positive virtues, from promoting trust and teamwork in the office t...

Swearing has an emotional impact

There’s great research coming out that says that jocular abuse, particularly swearing among friends, is a strong signal of the degree of trust that those friends share.

You’re demonstrating that you have a sophisticated theory of mind about the person that you’re talking to and that you understand their mental model.

Women swear just as much as men

Attitudinal surveys show that both men and women tend to judge women’s swearing much more harshly.

For example, when women with breast cancer or arthritis swear as a result of their condition, they’re much more likely to lose friends, particularly female friends. Whereas men who swear about conditions like testicular cancer tend to bond more closely with other men using the same vocabulary.

Feeling Offended

Taking offence is an experience of negative emotions triggered by a word or deed which conflicts with what is expected or believed to be correct, suitable, moral and acceptable behaviour.

Kinds Of Expectations

  • Foreseeable expectations are those which we assume others will know based on our interpersonal relationship with them and feel offended when we see it is breached.
  • Reciprocity expectation is a hope that our favors and kind deeds towards someone are repaid by them.
  • Equity expectations happen when we want to be treated fairly and equally.

These expectations, values and beliefs are all based on our past experiences.

A Sense Of Entitlement

Believing in our values forms our identity and provides us with a sense of entitlement to feel offended because we feel these 'sacred' values should be respected. 

This is amplified by being exposed to a lot of different points of view on social media.

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