Is it possible to have a conversation without swearing?


I don’t usually like to ruminate, but there is something that has been bothering me lately. There is a problem with the way people talk to each other. Let me give you an example of a conversation that I had no choice but to overhear while I waited to renew my license at the Sec. of State.

Two gentlemen were having a lively debate about sports, it went something like this:

Guy #1-“No man, that mother f*@&er can’t run worth sh*t.”

Guy #2- “What? You crazy, that ni#*% ran for 45 f*!@ing yards against…”

This went on for the full hour that I waited. Oh, and there were two children sitting near by.

I occasionally find myself throwing a few choice words into a sentence, especially after a couple of drinks, but I don’t know why. What do those words add to a conversation? I can only assume that they help to add emphasis to what someone is trying to say. If you like something then you would say, “Hey, that’s awesome”, but if you really like something then I guess you would say, “Hey, that’s f*@#ing awesome.” They also serve as a means of releasing anger or frustration. What are you most likely to say after stubbing your toe or watching Reggie Bush miss a pass? Yelling “Sh*t!” is much more cathartic than yelling, “Fudge!” suggesting that the words we choose to use are related to the level of anger we need to emit.

I’m all for adverbs, adjectives, and nouns, but the overuse of these particular words is making my ears bleed. I cringe every time I hear a radio personality swear and I am surprised I haven’t gotten whip lash looking to see if my son is paying attention each time a profanity laden TV commercial airs. Call me over protective, but I wouldn’t be too happy if my son described something as “damn good” because that’s what so and so said on 95.5 in the car on the way to school. Sure, it’s funny when kids, in their munchkin voices, swear, but it shouldn’t become part of their vocabulary. Oddly enough there are some people that feel otherwise. There have been two interviews recently where celebrities are boasting about their kids swearing. I realize that it happens and, again, it can be amusing, but is it possible to take a step back after the laughter dies down to see that exposing children to profanity can be harmful? A study done at Brigham Young University found that there is a strong correlation between exposure to profanity and aggressive behavior. This relationship was just about as significant as that of aggressive behavior and exposure to violence in the media and video games. Not so funny anymore, eh?

I understand that swearing is just part of our vocabulary, making up .3%-.7% of our overall speech (Jay, 2009). We have been swearing for centuries, but our daily use of those words has rendered us desensitized to them making what was once taboo now a regular way of communicating. What I find intriguing is that we don’t write how we talk. Imagine if this post contained all of the swear words one would most likely hear in a verbal conversation. That would be f*&$ing hard to read, right? If only we could talk the way we write. Yes, based on the amount of acronyms used in texts and emails we probably wouldn’t understand each other, but I would rather have the challenge of deciphering what is said than listen to someone spout profanity. Just sayin’.

Try going one day without swearing. If it’s hard, then you may have a problem. If it’s not a problem then you sir/madam are an aberration and I congratulate you, keep up the f%$@ing good work!

Jay, T. (2009). The utility and ubiquity of taboo words. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(2), 153-161.

Image credit: SodaHead


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