In every language, one can find swear words that are a crucial part of the culture. People often use swear words at times of emotional peaks, when they’re stressed or extremely happy. Though many are taught that the use of curse words makes someone a bad person. Often when someone swears excessively it gives others a negative impression of their character, but the truth is curse words are extremely important to mental health. Swear words are essential to human expression because it is an immediate emotional release.
As people grow older, things like crying to let a build up of emotions out becomes less and less acceptable. Crying when angry, or frustrated, sad, even when overly happy, as an adult is frowned upon not only in America but in many other countries around the world as well, it is considered weak and childish. But people do need some kind of emotional release, and if it isn’t crying, it’s swearing. Most children are taught at an early age not to swear, that it is something bad. This gives people the ability to make a more powerful statement by breaking “the rules” demonstrating that they feel so much that they no longer care to stay within the confines of social etiquette. Geoff Nunberg, a linguist at the UC Berkeley School of Information and the leading linguist contributor on NPR’s Fresh Air, wrote an article about swearing and stated that, “Swear words don't describe your feelings; they manifest them.” He says that, “the basic point of swearing is to demonstrate that your emotions have gotten the better of you and trumped your inhibitions.” By the way Nunberg describes it, swearing is a release of emotions, it acts as a valve to let off the pressure of feelings, that otherwise might build up and be a hit to one’s emotional well being.
In the human brain, curse words have a special place. They are not processed in the usual section of the brain that any other words are, the anterior speech area, or Broca’s area, instead they are sent to the limbic system, “a collection of deep brain regions which are responsible for processing emotions, certain automatic drives and habits, and even aspects of learning.” An article on Northwestern University’s science magazine, Helix, talks about where in the brain curse words are processed and what that says about them. “Swearing has an undeniable emotional component – some scientists argue that swearing is more about expressing an emotional state than articulating an actual linguistic idea. In the same vein, cursing is also considered a kind of automatic speech, as it is often used to fill space between thoughts or ideas.“ Cursing is more a communication of emotion than of ideas. This is evident in the fact that, unlike any other words, swear words live in the same parts of the brain as one’s emotions. Though people are taught to use them scarcely, restricting swearing entirely would be like telling people that they can’t feel frustration, or anger, it is impossible and unhealthy. People will always gravitate towards using words that are taboo in their culture to let off pressure because it helps them to deal with overloads of emotion.
Though curse words get a bad rap, they are necessary. They have always existed and are not going away anytime soon. They relay emotion when used and can convey the serious of a situation or show how much passion a person feels for something. The fact that curse words are considered unacceptable, provides the possibility for them to be used cathartically. If there were not the invisible “rules” put in place in societies against swearing it would not be as powerful when someone broke those rules and therefore it would no longer be as effective a tool to release those built up emotions. Not only is cursing necessary but the reinforced knowledge that one is not "supposed" to curse is also necessary in a society for people to maintain their emotional health.
Clark, Josh , and Charles Bryant. "How Swearing Works." Audio blog post. Stuff You Should Know.
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Roache, Rebecca. "Where does swearing get its power – and how should we use it? – Rebecca
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Nunberg, Geoff. "Swearing: A Long And #%@&$ History." NPR. NPR, 11 July 2012. Web. 26 Apr.
"BBC - Future - The surprising benefits of swearing." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
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