Swearing can make us feel better
A new study claims that swearing can actually make us feel better.
Scientists studied the impact of swearing on 64 volunteers who were asked to place their hands into a tub of ice water for as long as they could. Then the psychologists at Keele University had volunteers repeat the exercise, but this time asking them to curse for all they were worth.
When the participants screamed obscenities, they felt the healing effect and were able to keep their hands in the ice-cold water for nearly a minute longer.
While we don’t know exactly their words of choice, bad language has a long and colourful history. Swear words were originally blasphemy, something so prevalent in ancient times God had to write a Commandment forbidding it. Even the term ‘bloody’ we use today is a corruption of ‘By your Lady’, a religious exclamation from the Middle Ages punishable by having your tongue removed.
So with such a high price to pay for cursing, no surprise human ingenuity quickly furnished us with a plethora of obscenities to ensure the Second Commandment remained unviolated.
However, tracing the genealogy of some curse words, such as the infamous f-word, has proved difficult.
Legend has it the word came from ‘Forced Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ — the original term for rape — where as part of the punishment the perpetrator had the abbreviation branded on their forehead. Another myth suggests it came into usage during the plague when peasants were ordered to “Fornicate Under the Command of the King” to help boost a population that had been decimated.
However, few experts give credence to such urban myths. Especially given that the word was first recorded in the 16th century and very few acronyms predate the 20th century.
Regardless of its origin, after two centuries of everyday usage the f-word became taboo, and when DH Lawerence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover became the first novel to use it in.