Swearing is an art but not everyone is an artist!
If you know how to swear properly it can add colour and flavour to your words. If you don’t, you’ll quickly find yourself persona non-effing grata!
Swearing is not a modern thing. The residents of Ancient Pompei routinely used the F word in their graffiti although the earliest recorded reference to it in English dates back to at least the 14th century. Sh!t was used to refer to an obnoxious person as early as 1508. And in 1889 a witness in a Texas case once described the defendant as a ‘God damned motherf**king, bastardly son-of-a-bitch.’ Using swear words in court always still makes me snigger.
When I was younger, words like ‘crap’ and ‘bloody’ could not be used even in print, whereas now they are not even considered offensive. Today children begin their swearing journey from the age of six, and the word ‘sh!t’ has so entered our natural lexicon that it is now quite probably the single most versatile word in the English language. Think of its many varied uses:
“I’ve got sh!t to do”
“Leave my sh!t” alone
“You, piece of sh!t”
“Yo, that new album is the absolute sh!t”
(Finnish comedian Ismo Leikola delivered possibly the funniest one issue comedy sketch of all time about the word)
Swearing has a practical purpose too. Aside from helping you express emotion with greater emphasis, research suggests that teams that are comfortable swearing with one another have better morale.
Intelligent people are more likely to swear (thanks to the University of Rochester for that one!). And tests with MR scans have shown that people are better able to bear pain if they can shout out an expletive than when they try to handle it in stoic silence. So, when you stub your toe on your way up the stairs and scream out ‘MOTHERF**KER!’ (or is that just me?), that is actually your physiologically intuitive method of pain reduction (wish I’d had that explanation for Dad when I was a kid!).
But there is swearing right, and there is swearing wrong. So what are the rules for using profanities? When is it acceptable to drop an F-bomb? How can you say A**hole without actually coming across like an a**hole?
Here is my 4 point quick guide on how to swear like a boss!
#1 – Consider the context
Obviously, the first thing to think about is the context. Where are you? Who are you speaking to? What’s the occasion?
Some moments are built for swearing – don’t take your kids to football games if you don’t want them hearing some pretty salty words usually within a familiar song. Some audiences can handle a little, but not a lot of it – lawyers for instance quite enjoy a mild expletive now and then.
And some occasions will not bear any profanity whatsoever – a priest’s sermon, for instance, isn’t the time for bad language; and a welcome address to a group of new mums at a maternity celebration probably isn’t the place to use the C-word.
You also need to consider the relationship between you and your audience. The simple rule is that the wider the gap b