The Power of Swear Words

‘No swearing!’

How often have we heard parents and figures of authority utter the above-mentioned words?  Being a parent of a teenager and an educator, every now and then I quell my impulse to swear. When my son was a child, I was more prudent about the use of these valuable yet unapproved words. Nowadays, I don’t have to be careful at home as my teenage son very daringly articulates swear words with renewed confidence each time; a habit he must have picked up while interacting with friends probably because it is the school lingo. Swear words are essential. ‘Blasphemous indeed !’ would be the reaction from most.

To begin with, no other word other than a swear word conveys the right emotion of the person delivering it. If you’re a person who says the F*** word, then you would know what I mean. There is no substitute for this priceless word as it denotes the emotion of the swearer accurately – anger, frustration, disappointment etc.  When a person calls another ‘you bi**h’, he or she means that the other is cunning, manipulative, scheming, self-centered and is a person who uses others for their own vested interests. Correct me if I am wrong. It is very difficult to find another powerful word as this with so many connotations. At this point, my thoughts stray to the neanderthal and their ways of expressing dissatisfaction. As language had not evolved in the pre-historic or ancient times, instead of swear words they would have let out a scream, yell or strange sounds to convey their fury or displeasure vehemently. 

With the honourable intention of maintaining gender equity in my composition, I would like to seize this opportunity to dwell upon certain terms used by the male and the female when swearing. If  a female calls her male friend or boy friend ‘a d*** head’ then she is drawing his attention to the fact that he is reckless, emotionally unavailable, has behaved like a jerk and probably should apologise to her then and there. On the other hand, if a male calls his female friend or girlfriend a ‘wh**e’ or a ‘sl*t’, he means she has been disloyal, untrustworthy, unreliable and that she should maintain her distance with other male friends if she would like to be a part of his world. Certain swear words are unisex as ‘bi**h’, whereas there are words that are exclusively male such as ‘pu**y’ or ‘c**t’. In other words, men use the afore-mentioned words to talk about other men. They use the p or c word when they feel their masculinity is undermined by certain stereotypical feminine qualities such as cowardice, timidity, lack of guts, failure to rise to an occasion etc., and to insult and humiliate them until they grow up or behave like men.

Swear words have no equivalent as there are not many short succinct words that powerfully portray ones emotions as these. Timing and delivery is equally important for these offensive words to have its desired effect.  When emitted forcefully, it hurts the receiver and forces them to take some action, positive or negative. Such is the power of language. Any one dare to disagree?



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