Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cursing Is Good For You!

Faye Flam of The Philadelphia Inquirer asks the question, “Why are sex words our worst swearwords?”

Flam writes, “Several weeks ago the editors at the Philadelphia Inquirer debated whether to allow more dirty words in the paper. There was talk of loosening the restrictions on damn, which we've long placed in our category of lesser offenders though it implies something horrendous - condemnation to hell (a word we're also easing up on).

Topping our list of the worst possible words is the F-word, though in its literal sense it conveys something very nice. Writers are not specifically forbidden to use it but there are enough hoops to jump through that nobody has broken the F- barrier yet.

It's listed in our highest security class of obscenity, along with three synonyms for penis, two for vagina, two slang terms for oral sex, two variants on animal waste products and one expression that employs the F-word in an oedipal context.

What does this say about our society, and is there any scientific explanation for why people yell out a word for sex when they stub their toes?”

Flam further notes, “Overall, the scientific evidence suggests swearing is good for you, says psycholinguist Timothy Jay of Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts and author of Cursing in America.

We're the only animal that can curse, he says, which sometimes helps us avoid physical violence. "It allows us to express our emotions symbolically and at a distance." For example, Jay says, when a woman was weaving in front of him on the road that morning he was able to call her a "dumb ass" instead of getting out of his car and biting her.”

Flam writes that Americans rely heavily on the F-word, which, she concludes, “In addition to helping Dick Cheney refrain from biting all the Democrats in Congress, it represents the most direct and concise English term for sexual intercourse.

Some commentators have warned that we're wearing out the poor word with gross overuse, draining it of its original cathartic power. But Jay says we have nothing to worry about. It's an old word, possibly stemming from German and not an acronym for For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, as urban legend has it. It's been part of the English language for more than 1,000 years, he said, and it's still so taboo you can't say it on TV or in school. Or in the newspaper.”

For Faye Flam’s full & enlightening article check out SunJournal.com

So, dear readers, what are your thoughts on cursing? Please feel free to comment! :)

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Sabrina Luna
Spicy Romance with a Touch of Magick


Blogger Katrina Strauss said...

*LOL* at these two:

"Topping our list of the worst possible words is the F-word, though in its literal sense it conveys something very nice."

And..."one expression that employs the F-word in an oedipal context." Now that's a nice way to say "mutha-f'er". *haha*

From the first caveman who grunted just a bit louder and harsher than normal because he burnt his fingers while rubbing sticks for the fire, along with evolution has come words that pack a harder punch than others. What interests me is how foul language changes through time, and even from culture to culture, and not just the flat-out curse words but ones considered in poor taste. For instance, a British kid blurting "bloody" in front of his parents is the equivalent to an American kids saying "crap". My eldest kid got in trouble at school recently for saying something "sucked". As far as he's concerned, it means that a situation is less-than-desirable. He did not stop to think, anymore than the rest of us do, that the word bears a sexual connotation.

(And then what is so bad about "sucking"? Why the negative association we've given it? *LOL*)

12:40 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I like cursing and swearing. I don't like hearing a lot of it, but it doesn't offend me. I like it especially in the context of sex. I love the f-word. It's got that good, hard "ck" sound.

I am amused that the writer of the article keeps using biting as the physical action we'd take if we didn't curse. Maybe there's something about which he should speak with a psychologist. LOL! I'm sure he used it as an example, but I kept picturing events where one bit the cause of the irritation, instead of cursing about it. And would that be so wrong? Would you mess with someone who came up and bit you? And I don't mean in that fun, sexy way. But I wouldn't bite as my first choice; who knows what someone has, and maybe they don't practice good hygiene.

2:09 PM  

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