Have you ever wondered how the world decided what words were curse words? On our way to Florida this past weekend me and my husband were discussing why some words are considered curse words and others weren't. Curse words don't have any meaning but we have always known them to be bad because thats what our parents or family members have told us. I don't curse and I grew up in a household where cursing was not allowed. My husband parents don't curse and my husband doesn't either, I can count on one hand and not fill it up the amount of times I have heard him curse. What makes curse words worst compared to other words? Who chose these words, and why these words were pick over all the other words? Profanity dates back to the 1450s. People often used it to offend religious figures and religion. In Christianity swearing is a sin and it violates the Ten Commandments.
Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in July 2010 found that Canadians swear more than Americans and Britains. In Australia the states New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria made it against the law to swear in public places. In Brazil if someone uses profanity towards one another it is considered a crime against honor and the defendant can face up to three months in prison. According to Steven Pinker a Canadian cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author, there are five functions of swearing. Abusive, cathartic, dysphemistic, emphatic, and idiomatic are the five functions of swearing. Abusive swearing is when someone swears to hurt or cause emotional or psychological harm. Cathartic is used when someone is in pain or describing misfortune. Dysphemism swearing is used to when someone express how they feel about someone or something. Emphatic swearing is used when someone wants to draw attention to something. Idiomatic swearing is used when someone is having informal conversation, its part of the person language not used for offense.
Cursing can be offensive but there are so many words that I believe hurt people more than curse words. Words like stupid, ugly, disappointment, dumb, inadequate, ignorant, and the list goes on. How many times have someone cried when someone called them these words? People are more hurt over these words than any other words. I can recall being hurt when someone called me one of these words. I can't remember anyone hurting me when calling me a curse word. Curse words to me don't hurt. Stupid, ugly, fat, etc, hurt more than curse words. The reason why these words hurt more than curse words is because their meanings are powerful. No one wants to be called ugly or stupid. These are words that explain to people how we look or how we make decisions. When a bully messes with a person, they use these words because they hurt the most.
In my house we try to use our words carefully and we don't always make the right choices with our words but we try to work on how we talk to each other. I can recall my middle child crying one day when he got home from school because someone said he was dumb. I asked him why did he believe he wasn't smart? He told me because he made all B's instead of A's and the student on the bus said he was dumb because he didn't make A's. I had to explain to him that he was smart and that his grades did not define how smart he was. Getting B's is a great accomplishment and even if I build him up everyday, he will always remember the time he was called dumb. My older son was insecure about his weight because he felt like he was fat which was due to what people told him. Now he thinks he is fat and sometimes he jokes about himself and I have to correct him and tell him he isn't fat. These words hurt the most. You can't have a informal conversation without offending someone when using these words but people have informal conversations all the time using curse words.
Words are powerful and I am not promoting people to curse versus saying these words. I'm promoting people to be careful with how they use their words. The world is full of broken people because of words that were said out of anger or frustration. When you say words like stupid, dumb, ugly, fat, and skinny, these affect people self esteem. When someone is constantly called these words over and over they start to believe it. I use to be called skinny and though some might take it as a compliment. I took it as offense. I didn't think I was skinny. I thought skinny wasn't normal and though I wanted to gain weight. I couldn't. This one word carried all the way from my child years to my adult years and though I have gotten over it, sometimes it stings when I'm called it. I don't get offended like I use to but it use to hurt. I often wonder why these words were not considered offensive alone with the curse words.
Words help shape people into the person they will become and when you are talking to children, family, or people you know, your words can impact them in a negative or a positive way. The person thats called fat will always believe they need to lose weight. The person thats called skinny will always try to gain weight. The person thats called stupid will never try harder to make better grades or goals. The person thats called inadequate would never believe they are good enough. These shape people and they carry this hurt into their adult years. These words have caused more problems in children, teenagers, and adults than any curse word ever did.
So remember today to decide to work on how you speak to others. Let your words be sweet and not sour.
There are words in this world that are more hurtful than curse words. The way you choose to speak to people can have a negative or a positive impact on their lives. Theres going to be people that are going to hurt you and its nothing you can do about it but you have to choose to be the bigger person and save your words for good.
"Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don't mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime."
Check back next week for part two. I will be discussing how to choose our words carefully when talking to ourself.