Sh*t Happens: Swearing

January 16, 2018 | Bill V.

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You've likely heard about the controversy going on now with President Donald Trump and his colourful choice of language (and possibly racist immigration policy). Personally, I don't see a lot of difference between shithole or shithouse, and they both seem a bit potty mouth to me. But there are a wide variety of views on his language and policy, including those who support President Trump, as seen by these links to Fox News and Breitbart.

Having once written about poop, I thought, "Cheese and crackers! Swearing ... what's up with that?"

Swearing is good for you  the amazing science of bad language

According to Dr. Emma Byrne, "bad language might actually be good for us. Swearing, it turns out, is socially and emotionally essential."


What the f  what swearing reveals about our language  our brains  and ourselves

According to linguist and cognitive scientist Benjamin K. Bergen, "not only is swearing colorful, fun, and often powerfully apt, Bergen shows us, the study of it can provide a new window onto how our brains process language."


Holy shit  a brief history of swearing

Melissa Mohr has taken a more historical approach to swearing, as "she explores obscenities in ancient Rome – which were remarkably similar to our own – and unearths the history of religious oaths in the Middle Ages."


The rude story of English

Tom Howell also takes a more historical approach to swearing, as he "looks at English through its most uncomfortable, colourful, and off-putting parts."


Filthy English the how  why  when and what of everyday swearing

Pete Silverton "takes a clear, comprehensive and witty look at swearing and the impact of its new acceptability on our language, our manners and our society."

In praise of profanity

Michael Adams "offers a provocative, unapologetic defense of profanity, arguing that we've oversimplified profanity by labeling it as taboo. Profanity is valuable, even essential, both as a vehicle of communication and an element of style."

So, not wanting to leave you with a dirty taste in your mouth, I thought I would just finish with Jacob Grant's charming children's book Little Bird's Bad Word.

Little Bird's Bad Word


If you're intrigued by swearing, then I highly recommend my colleague Wendy's blogs: