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English Speech - Essay Example

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The world of people is quite a strange place to live in. Why, you may ask?…
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Download file to see previous pages But despite that swearing has always been an inseparable part of our culture, and most others for that matter, so even those of us who would wish to ban swearing as such will likely have to come to terms with its existence while man exists. So, on ground of this, let us take a closer look at the phenomenon of swearing and its place within our and other cultures. We start with defining this term. Swearing is normally understood as a profane expression through usage of a word or phrase normally associated with indecency. At the same time, quite ironically, swearing once signified telling the truth by making an oath. At this point we can immediately see how both those definitions of swearing combine in the real life and give us a better hand at defining what swearing actually is - a formally obscene verbal expression, which nevertheless may uncover a truth about our feelings as far as it conveys our emotions. Therefore, swearing clearly belongs to a group of cultural habits of a given society, and different societies allow for a varying degree of freedom of expression of its members.

However, it is here that the real difficulty may arise because in the modern globalized world, where we often communicate with representatives of other cultural traditions, cultural diversity creates potential for confusion due to the differences in attitudes to swearing and to the existence of different forms of swearing. For instance, you should always keep in mind that if you call a Chinese person a turtle, which is maybe not the most pleasant comparison for people in our society but still definitely not an insulting one, then you may become his or her worst enemy, because this innocuous creature represents one of the worst offences in China. Or, speaking about a much closer to us British culture, using the word 'bugger,' acceptable in the United States, would cast a shadow on your politeness as you would be understood as talking about a sodomite. If you were to live before 1934 you could even be imprisoned for uttering this word (Bryson 1991, p.224). And, as we have mentioned the history of attitudes to swearing, it must be noted that we are quite lucky today that we have a relative freedom of expression, because in the nineteenth century there were such intense attempts to clear out English of swearing that even some traditional words from the old English were being changed, like transformation of 'titbit' into 'tidbit' (Bryson 1991, p.221). So, as we can see, the phenomenon of swearing went as far as even modifying our language.
But what fuels the mentioned longevity of the presence of swearing as seemingly unavoidable cultural trait of most societies is its arguably positive ability to serve as a channel through which we may relieve our feelings. Ironically, the very forbidden status of profane words and expressions makes them very emotive, which then perpetuates their forbidden status. And what works is normally extensively used, therefore most people from time to time express their anger, dissatisfaction, or other impulsive emotion with the help of swearing, which, paradoxically, sometimes is sufficient to dismiss the cause of our vexation as a thing of the past. Of course, this does not concern damnable, sorry for this term, cases when some people are so accustomed to swearing that it constitutes a large part of their language. After all, to turn our mother tongue into a continual swearing would mean to strip swearing of the large part of its power.
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