I swear a lot. I can control this on occasion – I used to say ‘in the presence of old ladies’ but now that I am an old lady …& get angrier. I forget. There are lots of tests around that ‘prove’ that people who swear can bear to keep their hands in icy water far longer if they swear while doing it. But why anybody should do this escapes me & I am not sure it proves anything at all.
Swearing is diminished when overused, the words lose their power & become just another word & trite. Some groups, often new users or people who think it rather clever, overuse the delicious words. Some incorporate the duller of the words into their usual speech & others do this to the extent that they are hardly shocking at all. I know that when I first discovered the joys of swearing, in books mostly as nobody in my family used anything beyond ‘darn it’ or other puny words that slipped from a mouth with virtually no impact at all. I was all for impact, an attention-seeker who longed to shock. I liked the sound of the words too. Once, when I first heard the words mother- lover I was impressed at the resonance, the balance, the SOUND. The fact that one could swap the order of the curses with no detriment. It was outside a club where a group of GIs were shooting craps. I asked them to repeat the phrase; they did so reluctantly, I was enchanted. Poetry!
I have often been compelled to explain that the two acts involved in this particular curse are very unlikely to be realised in fact, I tell them to listen to the sound & enjoy it. Rarely, I meet somebody who does .I guess I am a radical among swearers. A curse snob. I had the joy of living with somebody from Belfast for many years, he used the F word excessively & I am afraid I picked up this bad habit, I try to control it but it slithers out anyway on occasion, & is more than compensated for by the gorgeous accent & wonderful, unique sense of humour. But it offends the less brave among us; I hesitate to say the brainwashed.
Another group who have a nice way with swear words are West Indians who have a vast litany of abusive words for the female genitalia, for which they also show a great enthusiasm. I have not yet figured this one out but dominos is improved I think by the sound effects. Another group who use words to great effect & improve the breadth of our culture, thanks!
So I conclude that swearing brings great sounds to the language, gives it essence & colour, is hardly likely to hurt anybody & though it will very possibly never be taught in our limited education system, it should be treated with respect.
And I am sorry to have lost friends through mere (powerful) words. Come back, I forgive you.