Researchers at Keele University in the UK have found that swearing can have a painkilling power, especially for people that don’t regularly curse.
[S]cientists conducted an experiment [where] student volunteers submerged their arms into a bucket of icy water while repeatedly uttering a swear word. They then repeated the experiment, while repeating a “harmless” word rather than a swear.
The results showed that volunteers were able to keep their arms in the icy water longer when they were swearing than they could when they were uttering the harmless word. According to the scientists, these results demonstrate the link between swearing and an increase in tolerance to pain. It should also be noted that for the volunteers who weren’t habitual swearers, swearing was four times more likely to ease the pain caused by the icy water.
One theory the researchers are considering, is that swearing — an act of aggression, especially if it’s not a part of your daily vernacular — triggers your fight-or-flight instincts, which can ramp up your tolerance to pain. — Newsfeed
I hurt, therefore I curse. — Rene Descartes
I come from a long line of profanity-users — Hungarians are known as much for their foul language as their pickpocketing skills, predatory women, and unflinching dishonesty — so I find this bit of news rather reassuring, even though the theory behind is full of shit. (Aaaah!). Flight or fight instinct my goulash-greased ass (Aaaaah!).
Furthermore, a linguistic quirk exhibited by residents of the City of Brotherly Love/South Jersey area — a notoriously foul-mouthed region — emphasizes use of the word “fuck” uniquely as an adverb, modifying the predicate; not adjectivally, modifying the subject or object. We don’t say, “The Phillies don’t have any fucking RBI power in their line-up,” we say, “The Phillies don’t fucking have any RBI power in their line-up.” Of course it is always acceptable to combine: “The fucking Phillies don’t fucking have any fucking RBI power in their fucking line-up.” This is why sports talk radio in the region deploy the 12 second delay rather than the 7-second standard.
When my mother wasn’t cooking cabbage or threatening the landlord with death and lawsuits, she tried to instill in her children a sense of propriety and dignity that frowned on profanity. This was beyond laughable. We learned that unless our sentences with peppered with profane expressions, which matured and changed through the years, nobody inside the family would take us seriously. It was my grandfather — her sainted Hunky father — who taught me the words “pussy,” “shitheel,” and “cuntlapper” when I was about 9 or 10. We were playing pinochle at the time. He always won. He fucking cheated, of course.
Who knew it was GOOD for us? Who knew it had physiological benefits?
And who fucking gave a shit?
I fully approve of profanity, as did Shakespeare, as did most of the giants of literature, who recognize salty language as a legitimate expression of human experience: sincere, expressive, direct. You’re playing my song. Moving to south Florida, I am delighted by the way Latin women toss curse words around like spent cigarette butts. It makes me feel right at home. They seem to understand that uttering profanity is liberating and endearing, the second best thing you can do with your tongue.
Your fucking tongue. Got it?
PS Despite its brilliant pathos and humor, Rick won’t link to this one.