New Aleteia Post: On Swearing

New post up at Aleteia, this one on why and how to stop swearing.

So why should we stop?

In the first place, because there can be a legitimate use for profanity. It’s a way to pack extra felt emotional force into a statement — whether for effect or to let off extreme stress (hence the famous swearing of sailors and soldiers). The trouble is, overexposure to profanity deadens the impact and consequently renders it useless. At the same time, normal speech becomes less effective and makes less of an impact. Like addicts, we become dulled to ordinary sensations and require higher and higher doses to register any effect at all. Casual profanity, therefore, becomes less and less effective while at the same time forcing us to use it more and more to try to make our words carry weight.

Which brings us to another issue. Profanity is meant to shock the listener, but in normal conversation, this is simply rude — akin to constantly shouting at the other person. Common courtesy dictates that in ordinary conversation we should try to make the other person feel reasonably comfortable, while profanity is meant to discomfort the other person. The two are contradictory. The only way a person would feel comfortable speaking with someone who swears constantly is if they had already become so desensitized as to render the profanity meaningless.

Read the rest here

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