By Brenda Brissette Mata
Not like “I swear that was a great game” – more like I say words that are not polite in certain company and I say them more often than my mother would like.
Not every profane word is common in my vocabulary – but some. There are many words that I won’t use because I find them misogynistic or grossly offensive. Of course those are my boundaries.
Civil society has one set of boundaries, but as anybody with eyes can see, those boundaries aren’t written in stone. They are pliable and malleable and as changing as the gal-dang winds. (Editor’s note: Did she really just say gal-dang?)
In 1972, George Carlin made famous the “seven dirty words you can’t say on television” – except now you can say more than half of them – at least on cable. And I don’t mean just the pay stations. Regular cable. I’m still stunned when I hear an unexpected curse on TNT or TBS.
My profane vocabulary was fairly small until I started working in a newspaper newsroom. In a few short years, it expanded – greatly. It was just the way most spoke.
Growing up, I used to stay with my grandparents who were devoutly religious. On occasion, usually when Grandpa was really angry, he would call somebody a “dirty pot-licker.” My Grandmother would be outraged. To this day, I think of that phrase as one of the most profane insults anyone could use.
Recently my mother – yes, my mother – took issue with a word I used in her presence. I apologized, even though my mother – yes, my mother – has been known, on occasion, to utter a swear word or two herself.
Like many parents, including my own, I didn’t want my kids to swear. And I tried to set a good example by not swearing around them. (OK, I tried not to swear around them very much.) My reasoning was simple; people who use profanity indiscriminately are simply not smart. They lack the ability to express themselves well and thus resort to profanity to fill the holes in their vocabulary.
Turns out I was wrong. Science is now offering proof that people who use curse words are not less intelligent.
A 2015 study in the Language of Sciences found that people who curse actually have a larger vocabulary than those who don’t.
Other studies have determined that swearing relieves pain and helps reduce stress – remember that next time you stub your toe at the end of the bed.
And if that wasn’t enough, a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinions found that Canadians swear more often than both Americans and British. Which is weird.
I always thought Canadians seemed like a calm, sedate bunch. Who knew they were smart, too?
Brenda’s column appears every Monday at noon, unless she forgets to write one, which is very possible, gal-dang it.