Everything in its place - profanity, too

Particularly in schools with foreign exchange pupils, the use of a single suitable language is encouraged.

A teacher will try to get everyone communicating in the same way to encourage learning. Then someone swears.

The science is definite.

Profanity has a use, and a place in society.

Outbursts of words that would turn many in their graves can increase one's pain threshold, release stress, and work as an outlet for aggression.

It is estimated that 0.5% of words used in typical speech are swear words.

Not much, but when considering how many words we speak per day, it adds up.

Consider speaking an average of 15,000 words per day.

That's actually around a 25-page essay, but it's only around two hours' straight talking.

That amounts to 75 uses of profanity each day - a figure that would make Captain Haddock proud.

The positive effects are almost definitely related to the taboo against the words in history, and throughout a large part of society.

It can be experienced as a pleasant relief from painful stress when we express instantaneous, outrageous anger.

Usage of this language in this way would perhaps be of benefit to a stressful classroom environment but, alas, it is banned.

Why?

The purpose of school is widely considered to be an attempt to prepare a pupil for the rest of their life, a part of which will no doubt be as a member of a workforce.

In order to get a job, particularly one with responsibility, an applicant must be well received by the potential employer.

To use words that are generally considered taboo would have a negative effect on this.

The usage of profanity around others of school age can also encourage them to do so.

People who may not understand the usage of profanity may swear because they think it is cool and this can create bad habits and ruin its potential effect, as the positive effects of profanity wear off with its overuse.

Both profanity's positive applications and its removal from the classroom are related to the taboo that has been historically placed upon it.

This has religious origins, and indeed, the word profanity has its roots in the Latin for ''outside of the temple''.

The attempt to remove profanity from the classroom is almost a losing battle, as it increases, but in my opinion, it is a noble one.

 


• By Matthew Chilcott, Year 13, Bayfield High School

A word from Captain Spaulding

This Captain Haddock you write of: is he a cursing sea dog on Portsmouth Drive? Excellent piece, ideal for spoken delivery. You're right. Originally, profane meant not sacred.