What’s in a swear word?

Used properly, swearing is a valuable asset in a very wide range of applications, it’s a pressure release valve, for

Used properly, swearing is a valuable asset in a very wide range of applications, it’s a pressure release valve, for such times as the moment you accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer, causing you to mutter or yell “f**k”, depending on how hard you hit yourself; it provides emphasis to a point being made in an argument and it can often be used to create a handy insult. The origins of that particular word are uncertain, but research shows it to most likely come from the middle Dutch of 1495 – 1505, where the word ‘fokken’ appears, meaning ‘to thrust’. In Sweden the word ‘Focka’ has much the same meaning. Swearing, and the word I refer to in particular, is often used by a certain group of people much too freely, with various other swear words appearing too, as often as three or four times in a single sentence, in fact, every sentence!

Some famous old swear words can barely be cast as such now, due to overuse over a long period of time. Good cases in point are ‘bloody’, ‘bugger’, ‘damn’, ‘shit’ and ‘blimey’. I have even heard quite genteel ladies using words such as these, in moments of stress!

Many of the swear words we use are actually derived from old oaths of a religious nature. ‘Blimey’ started out as a much more powerful ‘May God blind me’, while ‘bloody’ comes from ‘By the blood of Christ’ and ‘Damn’ means ‘God damn you’. The swear word ‘Christ’ is one that has remained unchanged over the centuries, though there is also at least one derivative to this, when we say ‘Cripes’. The reason for the changes appears to be the fact that the church considered such oaths to be blasphemous, so people employed the alternatives so as not to fall foul of an irate vicar!

Another group of swear words falls under the general heading of ‘body parts’ and bodily actions. ‘Shit’ is one such word, as is ‘bugger’, ‘balls’, ‘bollucks’ and ‘bum’, all fairly light hearted in their meanings, though some are much more serious and offensive, words I don’t care to write down here at all!

Swear words appear in pretty well every language in the world, so it’s obvious that they play quite an important part in the social structure of all races. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, their creation was and is to provide a safety valve in moments of stress; pain and just plain old anger. Everyone, in all walks of life makes use of them at some time, often very volubly, occasionally silently – I’ve even heard one or two gentlemen of the church let go with a chain of well-chosen epithets, usually due more to frustration in their cases, but still just as effective.

All in all, although there are a few words which are definitely taboo, I see no harm in these other words, along the lines of those mentioned above, being used, in public or in private, provided they are not used too often, so that they lose their potency and merely become another useless addition to a sentence! There are many of them to be sure, I’ve only scraped the thin top layer here, merely to illustrate what I was writing but the list could be almost infinite.

I’m sure all of you readers, depending on what part of the world you come from and your social background, will know some wonderful words, which the rest of us may never have heard, but dare you pass them on to the rest of us, as a useful addition to our own lexicon?

I’ll be damned if I know!

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