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Swearing can do good, but don’t overdo

A recent report by the BBC discusses the uses of swearing and finds some surprising benefits to it. It also debates the merits of quoting swear words in referred speech fully spelled out or with asterisks (as in “Sh**!”).

 It turns out that saying bad words—or, rather, screaming them at the top of your lungs—also helps you resist intense physical pain. Oddly, it may also promote bonding. People apparently tend to trust the potty-mouthed rather than those with stiff upper lips.

Like vocabulary overall, the swearing lexicon changes over time. Some words lose their strength: those that had a religious origin are now the milder kin of their louder cousins. Yet bodily effluvia have perennially been used metaphorically for less than poetical prose.

So, crossing verbal red lines have some advantages, as we all instinctively knew anyway. What else would you do in particularly bad traffic? But use these words with caution, like shooting in the air. If you aim them at the wrong person, make sure you have backup or an exit plan, very quickly.


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