Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Swearing: A form of language symbolism

What makes some of our words in our language more hurtful than others? You're in an argument with a woman, and things start to become tense and heated. Anger fills your body and you called her the "B"word. In most cases, this will trigger off a response from the woman, usually resulting in her smacking you across the face and then storming off. Whether you get the last word in or not, you still lose.

As humans, we all possess the power to hurt someone with our words. The swear words that we call each other or the name calling that we all have done at some point in or lives is sending a much deeper message than just the words we say. When I think about the swear words we say, the very words themselves have no power behind them. For instance, if I were to call someone a leaf, that would have no affect on them and they would laugh at me for my inability to come up with a demeaning word. Swear words come from three commonplaces: sex, bodily functions, and religion. What they all have in common is that they all can be used to establish power and dominance of another individual or people. This is where lies the problem of our swear words. We use these words to create a social reality that makes us feel more powerful than the other individual, and this is the core of what makes us feel inadequate when someone curses us out. 

What I think makes a word bad is that the emotion(s) stemming from the word reflect the condition of our hearts. Cuss words are blunt, rough, and quick to say which signifies that our heart is unloving, rude, and lacking acceptance in that moment.

I have two younger brothers, and one is only two years younger than me and we used to really be unkind to each with our words. My goal was to put him in his place because I was the older brother and that made me better in my mind. When I would call him names, he responded negatively to me not because the words hurt him, but because the message behind the words was hurtful. What my words were symbolizing was that I was better than him. 

Swearing at someone when you're infuriated with them will be the easy thing to do, but we must remember that our word choice is sending a deeper message to the recipient of our message. We are not just saying harsh words. We are signifying that we want to belittle and embarrass them with our words. 

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