[Ed. – No ^%!!@ way anyone’s going to build a case for dropping the f-bomb in polite company.]
You know when you stub your toe and involuntarily utter an expletive? You probably didn’t give it much thought, but you might have been on to something.
As children we’re taught that cursing, even when we’re in pain, is inappropriate, betrays a limited vocabulary or is somehow low class in that ambiguous way many cultural lessons suggest. But profanity serves a physiological, emotional and social purpose — and it’s effective only because it’s inappropriate.
“The paradox is that it’s that very act of suppression of the language that creates those same taboos for the next generation,” said Benjamin K. Bergen, author of “What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains and Ourselves.” He calls this the “profanity paradox.”
“The reason that a child thinks the F-word is a bad word is that, growing up, he or she was told that it was a bad word, so profanity is a cultural construct that perpetuates itself through time,” said Dr. Bergen, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego. “It’s an affliction of its own creation.”