This week’s word is…
I think it has to do with being Irish. Irish people curse with joyful abandon.
The seaside town I grew up in was rife with swear words. I wonder was it down to the number of sailors?!
Fuck is simply another word to pop into any sentence here and is rarely used to cause offence or upset. (I had to explain this to an American friend once who was very shocked whenever I told him to “Fuck off”. I meant it playfully, like “Get out!”, but in his frame of reference telling someone to “Fuck off” was tantamount to ending a friendship. As the Americans say, go figure…)
I clearly remember the first time I told my mother to fuck off… My mother, older sister and I were away for a family wedding in Galway and I was around 11 or 12. I remember we were trying to find the B&B we were staying in and were a bit lost. It was raining and I was in a foul mood. I’m not sure exactly what the provocation was, but I do remember turning to her and spitting out the words, “Oh fuck off!” and then freezing as I awaited her response. My sister, (aged around 20 at the time), and her exchanged glances and promptly burst out laughing, which, of course, annoyed me even further and elicited several more swear words from me. And so began my lifelong love affair with cursing.
But I digress…
This week’s word focuses on the emotional relief that cursing can bring. Who among us is not familiar with the satisfaction that comes with uttering “Fuck!/Shit!/Bollocks!” when we are upset or stressed? It feels like releasing a valve and letting all that pent-up tension out with the words. Think of the last time you were stuck in traffic and late for an appointment, or the last time you made a cup of tea only to find someone had put an empty milk carton in the fridge… did you mutter something profane and feel a little bit less uptight?
It isn’t only emotional pain or stress that can be relieved by cursing though. Dr. Richard Stevens from Keele University found that swearing can actually have an analgesic effect on physical pain. I ask again, who among us hasn’t cried out “Fuck!” when we stub our toe or cut ourselves? Dr. Stevens’ clever experiment with iced water clearly demonstrated the physical benefit swearing can have on coping with pain. I do love that his interest in the topic was piqued by observing his wife’s gutter-mouth during her experience of childbirth. He seems to be a scientist to the core!
However, subsequent research from him brings disappointing news to people like me, who have vocabularies any sailor would be envious of. It turns out that the more common swear words are in your daily lexicon the less of an analgesic effect they have in painful situations.
Which means, basically, I’m fucked!
In celebration of all things filthy, I will leave you with one of my very favourite scenes from Fr. Ted… Enjoy!
p.s. Do you swear? How often? Share your favourite curse word in the comment section! I’ll start you off with mine… Motherfucker!
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