Re: Profanity versus Professionalism

Yasha Hartberg (
22 Aug 1995 15:05:55 GMT

In article <415137$>, JRB8947@UTARLG.UTA.EDU (Joni R
Beaulieu) wrote:

> I was told that cursing was simply a weak mind attempting to
> express itself forcefully. For America, this may be true. Other
> cultures are different. I heard of one culture, but can't
> remember which one, where cursing was almost an art form. Can
> someone refresh my memory?

Actually it seems that cursing is nearly a cultural universal and may be
basic to our primate nature. Well, at least primates who have learned
sign language seem to start swearing sooner or later (for whatever that's
worth). At any rate, you are correct and there are several cultures
almost famous for profanity. Several spring to mind. Cuban spanish, for
instance, is riddled with colloquialisms which are unbelievably vulgar.
The Inuit would often settle disputes by holding singing contests in which
combatants would insult one another, the loser being the first to run out
of bad things to say about his opponent. And I believe it was either the
Crow or Sioux whose marital relationships were described by one early
observer as consisting of "all manner of wonderful epithets." I'm sure
there are more.

Yasha Hartberg
Texas A&M University
"Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion." Lao Tsu