Potty Mouth Positives
Posted by Gail | Filed under Gail Pleasures
Anyone who has spent more than a couple of hours with me knows I have a potty mouth. And for y’all who think swearing is a sign of a bad vocabulary, I’m here to tell ya it just ain’t so.
I was sitting at a dinner party doing my usual bit when it came to light that the gentleman two to my right was a Baptist minister. My radar must have gone off because my JCs were at a minimum. He wanted to know why a beautiful and obviously intelligent woman like myself (aww… gee) felt the need to use such awful language.
Y’know, I’m not all hung up on the language thing. I remember telling my kids early on that they’d get in way more trouble with me for attitude than for language. A “fine” said with a roll of the eyes and a huff was much more likely to earn my ire than a FU said in fun. I think it’s because I put so much emphasis on INTENT.
But the minister’s question still needed to be answered. I swear because I like to swear. It makes me feel better. It doesn’t hurt anybody, and it doesn’t hurt me. In fact, according to the most recent research, swearing can help to alleviate pain.
The study of swearing goes back a long way. In 1965, a man who had his brain split in half, found his ability to speak limited, but his ability to swear in no way impaired.
Bad language it seems hinges on our much older brain circuitry than language, and has strong ties to the parts of our brains that process emotion. The amygdala, an almond-shaped group of neurons that can trigger the fight-or-flight response, is often activated when we’re spewing swearwords.
The dreaded F-bomb (my personal fav) has been around for eons. The first instance seems to date back to a satirical poem, written in Latin, in the year 1500. It was the word that kept Lady Chatterley’s Lover out of “polite” society. And the word is still considered unutterable in polite company. NewsTalk1010 and Slice both have to bleep me since it’s still banned from most television/radio stations and newspapers, though The Globe and Mail did quote me directly in a piece they did on me some time ago.
In his book, The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker (one of my favourite brains) included a detailed analysis of swearing. According to Pinker, the angry vocalization is used reflexively to startle and intimidate an attacker.
Timothy Jay, a psychologist at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has studied profanity for 35 years and says that it allows us to “vent or express anger, joy, surprise, happiness.” Yup, that just about covers all the reasons why I swear. He goes on to say, “It’s like a horn on your car – you can do a lot of things with it. It’s built into you.”
Hey, if you tick me off, you betcha I’ll be leaning on my horn. If that offends you, stay out of my lane.