By Nico Zulli
It may seem nuckin futz, but swear words are considered the hottest verbal commodity in the world today. For hundreds of years, these no-no words have been used by people in the English language to express, impress, insult and de-stress.
In fact, many linguistic scholars have worked to trace these words back to their Latin roots im order to explore their development over time. And, holy frijoles, have they evolved.
“Shadoobie,” said Baylor alumnus ‘13, Preston Blackburn. “I say that in place of the S-word sometimes, like so, “I have to go take a shadoobie.”
But, it seems not everyone is quite as modest as Blackburn.
Prospect Magazine reported in a recent article that studies by psychologists have revealed swear words to be the most commonly used words in the English language next to pronouns and prepositions – but they can’t stop won’t stop there.
There have been extensive studies conducted around the history of the evolution of swear words, and believe it or not, they were not considered obscene back in the day. However, some swear words have developed a wide-variety of non-traditional meanings and applications in today’s world of words.
“I’m pretty bad about cursing, but Sugar Honey Iced Tea, is how I say the S-word when I catch myself in time,” said Washington, D.C. senior Christina Helmick.
While Shadoobie and Sugar Honey Iced Tea sound like a great southern meal you can order at a down-home Texas bistro, Business Insider reports that the original ‘S’ word derives from the Old Enlgish scitte, meaning “purging, diarrhea” or the basic form of excrement. Clearly, this word, along with many others, no longer always imply its literal meaning.
Time Magazine said in a recent article that due to this evolution of swear words into multidimensional, explosive, often non-literal descriptors, society during the Victorian Era deemed them inappropriate to use in conversation.
With the rise of the middle class during this time period, a person’s character and morality was generally judged upon their compliance with social rules and conventions. However, Time also said that the upper class of the Victorian Era generally tended to use swear words more freely, because they felt as though they could do no wrong as an aristocrat in society.
Perhaps this sense of entitlement to word choice explains why Time reported, today 0.7 percent of the words a person uses in a 24-hour period are swear words.
But, why the H-E-double hockey sticks do people still do it?
“I am pretty bad about cussing in every day conversation for no legitimate reason,” said Los Angeles junior Hayley Di Naso. “I think I do it to be rebellious and to make more of a point, because those words are noted as bad, and it makes me feel like what I’m saying will get more notice.”
Jessica Love, Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and science writer and editor at Northwestern University said in her article, ‘On the Psychology of Swearing,’ that some researchers have suggested that these taboo swear words have a hold on us that goes beyond their emotional impact or distinctiveness – that, like Di Naso, many people use these words to ‘intensify’ communication more efficiently.
Essentially, swearers of this nature use the cultural notoriety surrounding swear words to assert and bolster their presence in conversation. Other swearers, use curse words for comic release.
“I sometimes joke around with friends, and the occasional curse word is thrown around to be funny,” said Houston senior Humza Saleem.
Studies conducted by psychologist Timothy Jay of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams support this idea of comedic release. Jay’s studies have found that swearing can be a catharsis – providing both release and relief from pain and stress.
Regardless of these differing reasons and motivations, none will justify the use of swear words when it comes to Baylor intramural sports.
“We have a zero tolerance policy for any use of profanity in sports,” said Dominque Hill, assistant director for Baylor intramural sports. “If you do use profanity, and our referees hear it, you will be ejected immediately, miss the next game, and meet with me to discuss the use of profanity.”
Hill said he has found that 95 percent of the time, the use of curse words in intramural games are a ‘slip of the tongue.’
Lawren Kinghorn, Baylor student government internal vice president, said Baylor’s Student Body Constitution states that students, and student government representatives themselves, are charged with the duty to uphold a Christian code of ethics and professional atmosphere.
“I don’t really curse, and that’s just a personal preference,” Kinghorn said. “I believe that, as student government members, it’s more of an expectation we have of one another to portray ourselves professionally. It would be shocking to hear someone use a swear word in a Senate meeting.”
Despite attempts by field experts, scholars, college faculty and student organizations and individuals to reason and justify, rebuke or accept, curse words – the fact of the matter is that these little verbal fireworks are here to stay.
And all the swearers out there get to continue being hilarious badasses who switch to professional mode when it’s necessary, because that’s how things really work, right?