Swearing and Getting Angry

I was talking to my friend Jeff today about swearing. He doesn't swear at all. Ever. On the other hand, I swear like a pirate at times. He's never really explained why he doesn't swear but he did today and I thought it was interesting.

His observation many years ago was that when someone swears a lot, no one listens to them. I wonder, do you think this is true?

I thought about it and realized that when I really want to be listened to, I refrain from any bad language. I also don't swear when I'm trying to be courteous, which is common. 

So for instance, when I'm out in public in mixed company, at a meeting, doing something business related, or with most of Butch's family, I clean up my language. If I'm trying to make a point or explain something, I also usually refrain from rude language.

But when I'm relaxed among friends, I am more apt to use the bad language. To me, they are just words, using the same letters as any other. I think of it as a vestige of religion to say that some letter combinations are taboo.

I think if you want to express something strongly, a good swear word usually does the trick. For instance, if I stub my toe, research has found that if I swear it actually reduces my perception of the pain. This only works if I am not a complete potty-mouth all the time, though.

I've heard some say that swearing shows a lack of intelligence, but I don't think that's necessarily true. I think if you swear profusely all the time, and don't express anything beyond coarse vulgarity in the full content of your speech, then yes, it shows a lack of intelligence - and class.

But I think if you save your profanity for appropriate situations, then there shouldn't  be anything wrong with it. You're just using the full breadth of the language.

If I'm really heated about something and want to express those feelings strongly, a dose of profanity is a good way for me to drive a point home, if in the right company. For instance, sometimes I find the best word to describe something on HDC is 'bullshit'. Usually I'm really trying to make a point when I swear on here, and I chose the specific words carefully because I think they express what I'm trying to say very directly.

So then Jeff and I were talking about when someone gets really mad. He said that if you need to express real anger, you can let people know by swearing. I thought about it and I think I would say it this way.

When you are really mad and you want people to know, I think you have to do something out of character. So if you never swear, then you let out a string of profanity, that will get peoples' attention. But if you normally swear like a drunken sailor, no one would even notice.

If you are normally really quiet, then you could express your anger by yelling. But if you are usually boisterous, maybe getting really quiet is how you show how mad you are.

This is very interesting, because I often feel like I can't get across to certain people when I'm especially enraged. It doesn't happen often, but I often find I am unable to really express my deepest emotions clearly.

I think I'm going to create an Angry Dance that I do when I'm especially hot under the collar. So if you see me expressing myself through Interpretive Dance, you'll know why. 


  1. expressing to people who care about you is the simplest--because they care about you. Doesn't matter what language you use.

    Worrying about someone's understanding, someone who doesn't care about you--a waste of time. Doesn't matter the language.

  2. Thank you! I always insist ... why the hell are some words considered "bad"? It's usually the bastards that support the kiddie fuckers at the local church that think about words in terms of good and bad, to me, it's just language, and I try to use as much of it as I can. Language is vast, and people use very little of it, because they either don't know it, or because they consider it harsh.

    I live my life half in my native language (Spanish) talking to people where I live (Argentina) and half in my second language (English) either on the internet, or with foreign customers, or with my coworkers (we all speak spanish, but we are coders, most programming languages are based on the english language, and we colaborate with coders that don't speak spanish, so we write code and comments in english, and half the time think or communicate between us in english, also, documentation is usually in english). So, I didn't start learning English until I was 5 or 6 years old, and it was just very basic english at school, it was good for nothing. I picked up english again when I was around 14 or 15 and learned by myself. So, I wasn't exposed to insults in English for a very long time (15 years is one half of my life). The interesting thing that I noticed is that it didn't change anything. I picked up all of English just as I picked up all of Spanish, 'bad words' and all. If there were really something so different about those words, coming up to them so late in life would have been a different experience, but it turned out, it was just the same: emotions tied to words and their meaning. Many synonyms or quasi-synonyms (words which might have different ethymology or exact meaning, but are used interchangeably) such as murder and kill, have actually different emotional attachments to them. Rape and violate. Hit and punch. Make love, have sex, and fuck. Shit and excrement. Lies and bullshit. We might use them almost as synonyms many times, but when you want to be precise, you might choose assassinate instead of kill (because it was done for political reasons), or Rape instead of violate (you can violate people in many ways, but rape is always sexual). But some other times, the kind of precision you need is emotional and not semantical. So, Fuck has a certain emotional attachment (or rather unemotional) while make love is completely different. Hookers get fucked, but you might make love to that special lady. And there's another one, a whore and a prostitute ain't the same fucking thing. So, not swearing is actually completely limiting in most circumstances. And language controls the way you think, if you don't agree, go read 1984 again and try to speak in double-speak for a couple of weeks. Saying something is double-plus ungood is not the same as saying it's a fucking piece of shit, and thinking it isn't either. so, I was whatever words confer the right meaning, and the right emotion. If you don't know enough words, you'll end up sounding like the fucking simplified-english wikipedia, and you won't be able to confer the whole meaning you had in mind. If you limit yourself to not using certain words, you'll be cold and distant, and will fail at communicating too because emotion is half of all human communication. We found it necessary to create the emoticon, or all the special meta language found in comic books, to transfer part of the meta language that is not passed exactly through just words. We are already dumbing down our ideas when we put them into words, there is no way to completely transfer what you are thinking in all its masterful complexity to somebody else, but using all communication tools available to us is a good way to start.

    Sorry for the lenghty post, I think I initially had a point, but then my brain turned back into analitical mode and I just started thinking out loud. Well, fuck.

    1. Fascinating! Thanks for this. I think I agree with most of what you said, except I think if you simply refrain from swearing you can still communicate clearly. My friend certainly does with me.
      I agree though, that using the full vocabulary, including foreign words for things that our language doesn't have yet such as schadenfreude, is liberating.
      But I respect my friend's decision to refrain from swearing too.

    2. It's about self-expression and self-control. Neither one dictates the use of words that are not polite. There are many such words. In English: nigger, kike, jap, flip, frog, fritz, yid, etc. They are part of the language, too, no matter what some people want to believe. Shit, fuck, cunt, bitch, those words are in the language, too, and some words are worse than others. Use of some paints you into a certain corner, while the use of others paints you into an ever-decreasing social square.

    3. This not what I wanted to say. There was a lot more, at least 3 paragraphs preceding this, but it got lost. Sorry about that.

    4. I'm sorry it was lost. I hate when that happens!
      I agree with what you said, though. And you listed some words I didn't even know. :P

      I like how if you say cunt here in the US, that's about as bad as it gets, but in Great Britain everyone says it all the time and it doesn't seem to be very offensive.

    5. I tried to post using my Wordpress profile, but it freaked out on me, and apparently I had only copied that one paragraph, not the whole thing like I wanted to.

      Anyway, I learnt 'flip' from a Filipino girlfriend I had many moons ago. Apparently, that's what they call themselves and not in any bad away, but of course I would have never called them that, myself. Which is basically what I was trying to get across to the previous poster. There is a time to love, and a time to kill. Isn't that how that old song went? Sure, you can use whatever words you want, but there is a time and a place for all of them. Recognizing that is what being a social animal is all about.

    6. Yes, I agree, there is a time and place for different kinds of language and being sociable means learning when and where to use it appropriately. Well said. :)

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26UA578yQ5g A video about fuck. It's very funny. If going by popularity of the Angry Video Game Nerd and the Tourettes Guy I think those that swear seem to be popular as long as they are not internet trolls.