Curse words have become common in everyday society — in movies and tv, walking down the street, heck, even in McNick. Should curse words really be so common?
When we were children our parents and teachers taught us that cursing is inappropriate and shouldn’t be used, even when we’re in pain. We were taught that cursing is rude and portrays a simple mind with a limited vocabulary. However, as we have grown up, we’ve been bombarded with adults, both on screen and in real life, using profanity. This juxtaposition makes these words special and almost holy, not to be used except for in rare circumstances, and yet in the year 2019, I can’t even go a full day without saying a profane word, and I’m not alone. In a survey conducted by the McNicholas Milestone, 58% of respondents said that they swear multiple times a day and 14% said that they use profanities once or twice daily.
What does this mean for swearing in general? They certainly aren’t just words, as many claim, but are they all bad either? According to Emma Byrne, a neuroscientist, in her book Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, research has revealed that using profanity promotes community bonding between humans and can even increase one’s tolerance to pain. Byrne even explained that humans aren’t the only primates who use curse words as chimps have been observed to do it as well. However, it appears most fall equally on the two sides of this argument on swearing. About half of the respondents from the McNicholas community said that they were not allowed to swear in their household and the other half said their parents didn’t feel it was necessary to prevent them from swearing.
One Senior said, “My parents didn’t swear around me growing up, and I knew that I would be scolded so I just never did it as a child. Now that I am older my parents use pretty much any language with me and they don’t mind when I swear around them, not that we swear a lot, it just isn’t suppressed from our vocabulary.” Jeff Mulvey, McNicholas English teacher, said, “Everything, but the “F” word was heard from my folks – it’s just the way they talked.”
Most respondents agreed that any word used specifically to insult a group of people is inappropriate, and roughly 13% of respondents believed that any use of a curse word was unacceptable.
“Swearing has no [effect] on how I perceive a person. It’s just part of the English language and can be used whenever someone deems it proper. I understand that in certain situations you should refrain from using such words, but people really shouldn’t be offended or think differently of someone for them making use of a word. I would even say that if you think someone is less intelligent for using such words, they are really the unintelligent ones for having that opinion,” a Junior said.
Society no longer shies away from using profane language that once made our grandparents flinch, but do we swear too much? “We have definitely become too relaxed in our use of it — some people curse so much they don’t realize it and then use words at inappropriate times, and I’m either embarrassed or sorry that any young children in close range heard the language,” McNicholas’ English department chair Angie Noble said. Timothy Jay, a professor of psychology at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, estimated that the average American adult used profanity once every two hundred words.
However, as Mulvey put it, “What makes one word for something acceptable, while other words that mean the same thing are not? Would you be allowed to call someone an ‘excrement head’ in decent society? A rules clarification would be helpful.”
Perhaps we do swear a bit too much, but to curse is to be human. When we take the risk of using a profane word we are showing that we trust the person in earshot. It’s a way to release frustration in a healthy way. Curse words are a part of our language and that won’t be changing anytime soon as they serve as a connector across human beings.