1 sept. 2011

Is Swearing Creative?

Some believe that the use of blasphemy, obscenity, and scatological language reveals a limited vocabulary and a poor command of language. It is actually hard to swear correctly, however. It requires a very well-developed sense of pragmatics and sociolinguistics. An obscene oath is usually not literal in its meaning. In Spanish swearing offers enormous regional variations.

Of course, fixed expressions always seem less creative (in Chomsky's sense of linguistic creativity) in that they are formulaic. It is the language itself, then, that seems creative in its ability to generate such a large number of variations on a seemingly limited number of bodily functions.