So I was thinking in the shower this morning, and I thought about why people swear. Perhaps this isn’t always why people swear, but it seems to me that people swear largely because they let themselves feel an emotion that they either shouldn’t or needn’t be feeling. As most of you probably know, I have on occasion been known to pepper my speech with vulgarity. However, when I’m with my dad’s family, my wife’s family, or my wife, I never swear. Still more, I’m never even tempted to swear. I don’t find myself catching myself, “oops, I nearly cussed at my mother-in-law…” I just don’t ever even feel the need to swear.
On the other hand, when I do swear, I’ve usually been in the dorms at school, or sometimes at work. There are two factors to this, I think. 1) I’m surrounded by people cursing up a storm, and 2) I’m generally much angrier. My attitude over the past few years while I was at school was generally much less content and much more angry. I missed my girlfriend/fiancee, I had uncooperative professors who didn’t always like me, I wasn’t making as much money as I’d like, etc. In that mindset, vulgarity crept into my vocabulary without my ever noticing it, and when I did notice it, I just kind of ignored it.
Think about a group that is stereotyped for their coarse language, sailors or soldiers for example. They have reason upon reason to be angry and discontent with their situation. The more instances of swearing I think about, the more I am certain that swearing occurs when angry. “My damn computer broke” conveys a lot more anger than “My computer broke,” even though the situation is not necessarily meritting anger.
People say they get in the habit of cursing. I have to wonder… do they get in the habit of cursing, or do they get in the habit of being angry and discontent?