Some studies seem to suggest that swearing uses parts of the brain not generally involved in regular speech–parts of the brain that have a role in emotion and instinct. Some people have made the assertion that chimpanzees swear, though how you could know that, I’m not sure. But at any rate, it seems entirely possible that what we call “swearing” is a kind of speech distinct from other speech–not just in the way we categorize it, but in the way our brains process it.
So you’d think people would just, you know, swear. But it’s more complicated than that. In the US at least there are all kinds of rules about who swears and when.* So even if we accept that swearing is a speech with a distinct neurological difference from other speech, it’s also clear that it intersects very strongly with culture, sometimes in complicated ways.
Mirrored from Ann Leckie.