Monday, July 13, 2009

Swearing is good for you

A recent study shows that swearing may make it easier to bear pain, according to this article in WebMD

What interested me most was the finding that using strong language
taps into emotional brain centers and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain


I would love to understand how certain words get the taboo status that gives them the emotional impact that some people find offensive.

At least now we know that while strong language may upset some people there is a rationale for it. We're only trying to save ourselves pain.

14 COMMENTS:

Robin S. said...

This is really interesting - as you know, I'm a strong language user - but I never knew it tapped/arose from the right brain.
Maybe I'm extra-language-ambi-dextrous? (Sounds good, anyway!)

Lisa said...

Curious what motivated someone to study this.

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

Well, fucking - a, it's about time swearing was given the credit it deserves. :)

writtenwyrdd said...

"We're only trying to save ourselves pain. " Yes...by sharing it! Hahaha! That is a fascinating concept, though.

laughingwolf said...

social convention... what offends one does not necessarily offend someone else....

Sarah Laurenson said...

I'm all for saving myself some pain.

Whirlochre said...

Part of the charm of swear words is the aspect of magic — they're infused with meaning that everyone knows signals OFFENSIVE.

Many are gutteral and earthy, and you can generate similar once by spieling nonsense, some of which can be quite plausible if your intention is OFFENSIVE — but they're never as good as the real thing.

One of the reasons the famous Grundy interview with the Sex Pistols is so funny is that, on the one hand, said guns of copulation are clearly desperate to be seen as the baddest kids on the block yet they weild their shocking weaponry so tentatively they end up looking like href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRNOUz7uefA" target="_blank">prissy schoolboys.

As for how the brain works, I'm not sure, but let's face it, there's nothing like having a Basil Fawlty Plus when times are hard or wasps annoying, and I'm afraid to admit, some days I'm a chain swearer. Maybe that's why my bike helmet is always lopsided.

Whirlochre said...

Bastard bollocks bugger arse! The link didn't work...

fairyhedgehog said...

You commenters are the best! I was laughing out loud at these.

Robin: Being ambidextrous in your language can only be a good thing.

Lisa: I can see why they'd want to investigate strong language but how they put that together with pain is anyone's guess.

Sophie: Yes, we're giving credit where it's due.

Writtenwyrdd: I like the idea of sharing the pain.

Laughingwolf: That's what interests me. How do certain words get to pack such a huge punch and why is the effect on people so variable?

Sarah: Well, you know what to do now.

Whirlochre: Nice video. (I think that link works.) I hope you felt better after your second comment.

Robin S. said...

I know I'm feeling better after Whirl's second comment! Killer fun way to wake up in the morning, if you're prone to right brain wordmaking (as I am).

stacy said...

Hah - this must be why I have such a high tolerance for pain. : )

fairyhedgehog said...

Robin: Whirl tends to have that effect.

Stacy: you're another one of the strong language group, then.

Richard N said...

*Richard sings*
"extra-language-ambi-dextrous, ex-bee halitosis..."

Nah... dosn't work quite the same as a good old-fashioned "fuckit"...

fairyhedgehog said...

Richard: Thanks for giving me a good laugh to start the day!

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