Profanity! THE PHENOMENON Essay

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Language is the most important aspect in the life of all beings. We use language to express inner thoughts and emotions, make sense of complex and abstract thought, to learn to communicate with others, to fulfill our wants and needs, as well as to establish rules and maintain our culture.

Language can be defined as verbal, physical, biologically innate, and a basic form of communication.

We can define language as a system of communication using sounds or symbols that enables us to express our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and experiences. (E. Bruce Goldstein, Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience, 2nd ed. Thomson, 2008)

Humans express their feelings in many different ways physically, mentally or verbally. Vulgar words, also known as swearing or cursing exists in all human languages that perform certain functions. One study found that swearing is not merely a common reaction to pain; it actually functions as a pain reliever where psychologist would advise people to swear than to hurt someone or yourself.

However, the overuse of swear words tends to diminish their beneficial effect and will result in bad moral attitude. Swearing is a widespread but underappreciated anger management technique. (Mapºa Institute of Technology, Vulgarized Filipino Identity: Development of Filipino Profanity, 2011)

Swear words have manyaliases: bad words, curse words, cuss words, dirty words, four-letter words, expletives, epithets, obscenities, profanity, blasphemy, bawdy language, foul language, rude language, vulgar language, or taboo language. This long but nonetheless non-exhaustive list of descriptors gives an indication both of the wide range of alternate labels that exist, and of the kind of words or language these labels denote.

Most people have at the very least a general idea of what such words or language use these descriptors refer to, if not an intimate knowledge of or even personal affinity for some particular examples. One definitive setof words encompassed by these labels is nonetheless elusive, due in part to the subjectivity of defining swearing. In very basic terms, swearing refers to the use of words which have the potential to be offensive, inappropriate, objectionable, or unacceptable in any given social context.

The fact that there are so many labels for such words or language use is testimony to the variable nature of swearing. (Whos Swearing Now? The Social Aspects of Conversational Swearing By Kristy Beers F¤gersten)

Swearing is prevalent in almost every culture around the world, with each having its own profanities. The practice of swearing is unique in that even though its thought of as taboo in most cultures, its still done by most people. In fact, in America, about 74 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds and about 48 percent of those over the age of 55 admit to swearing in public [source: YgoY]. And linguistics experts agree that young children learn swear words and begin to grasp their power long before theyre capable of understanding what they mean [source: Angier]. (

Children are such a large part of the society and as human at this point in time of their lives they now start to explore different things, most especially on words or languages to say. As we know, children are the most innocent beings, capable of saying such sweet and cute words or languages. We all know how they are fond of experiencing new things through exploration, learning through observing their elders. Sometimes the most unexpected things are the ones children end up copying not knowing if it is a good thing or bad thing.

Were all aware of that quality in kids. Everyone in their immediate surrounding is a role model to them and this comes with certain consequences. Our actions and choice of words have a clear effect on how a child behaves, as its perceived as appropriate. But what if it begins to get out of hand, considering they might not know the real meaning or definition of profanity they learn from others?

Word is the wave vibration, which has the power, as the creative and destructive. And the destructive words are profane words.

Using swear words influence bad on young generation. Nowadays many adults use cursing words and it is bad for young generation, of course. Every man nowadays use taboo words, and it is difficult to re-educate them to not use them. To support my opinion further it is important to mention that children are hearing swearing in the movies and on TV, and in the music they listen to that they have become desensitized to it. (Valerie Strauss, 12.04.2005). So swearing get more popular and parents forget about that they influence bad on their children. (

Lets take women in our society. Traditionally, women were the caregivers and homemakers. They refrain from using bad words at home. According to the article by Pamela Stewart (03.2011) statistics to 2010 year, there has been an increase in the number of women using taboo words. In 2006, 45 percent of females were reported to swear in public. So women cannot imagine that they learned their children use these cursing words.

Fortunately, kids do not understand the meaning of these words, but happily reproduce the bad phrases shocking others. Agree, to hear such bad words from your child it is very awful. Most mothers still scold their children for using taboo language or swearing said Pamela Stewart, eHow Contributor. But how they can scold their children, if the cause of using taboo words among children it is their parents.

Words, especially from those we consider leaders, can guide us or deceive us, make us knowledgeable or ignorant, violent or peaceful, sad or joyful, wise or foolish. Words or languages can be good or bad. Words can comfort when were feeling sad, inspire us to take action, acknowledge us for a job well done, humiliate us, and make us laugh, stimulate our thoughts, educate us, or incite violence.

A poster on a school notice board declares: What we habitually say in our heads, we usually end up saying with our lips, which ultimately direct our feet. Words are powerful. From others they often influence or direct our decisions and behaviour while our own words act to elicit responses from those who receive them. ( )

According to Maureen Gill, an educator, author, blogger, and public speaker known for her insightful historical analyses, biting political commentaries and riveting fiction said that, she doubted the saying that says the eyes are the window to soul and didnt doubt for a moment, however, she added that, the words we speak or write convey the inner workings of our minds and hearts. There is no better way to know a person than to listen to him/her speak, to know what they read, to understand whom they admire and if you know this, you know everything that is truly important to know about a person.

Words, spoken and written, not only indicate whether a person is educated, cultured, kind or venal, they also demonstrate if thoughts are ordered and cognition is intact or impaired. The choice of words and their arrangement are used by physicians and other health experts to evaluate emotional as well as organic pathologies, Maureen Gill added.

Profane is defined as irreverence, obloquy, or contempt (something sacred); Treat as not sacred: desecrate,, pollute; to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use: abuse, defile, vulgarize (Websters Third New International Dictionary, ).

Thats just language learning. These words have no special status as taboo words, says Paul Bloom, Ph.D. Learning theyre taboo words is a later step. Bloom explains that children are using words to communicate instinctively.

They dont yet have the judgment to take a step back and think about whether a word is appropriate in a given situation. Paul Bloom is a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on language, morality, religion, fiction, and art. (

In an article by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post Staff Writer, entitled More and More, Kids Say the Foulest Things said that, Profanity, in the large sense, is defined as words that others consider offensive, although it originally was restricted to words that were blasphemous. Once heard mostly in whispers, today it is inescapable. I never thought I would say this ” once being a hard-core anti-music censor ” but I understand why [young people] are doing this: You almost cant find a song, video game, television show, anything, without a curse word, said Laura Lee Cox, a seventh-grade teacher at Cedartown (Ga.) Middle School.

Author David Riesman said, Words not only affect us temporarilythey change us.

In the current generation, it is becoming more common for young children to use profane languages or bad words in a daily basis. It could be because of their parents, peers, or an incident that made them start using these profane languages we all know well.

Sometimes children hear these words from other children, brothers or sisters, parents, or on TV. The child may repeat what she heard without knowing what the words mean. When an adult hears a young child talk like this, they usually either laugh or are shocked. Some children really enjoy the reaction they get from others, so they will continue using these words. (

But according to Harvard Psychologist, Steven Pinker, Children are far more influenced by peers, says Pinker. Thats why kids of immigrants end up with the accent of their peer group rather than their parents. Particularly once theyve entered elementary school. Steven Pinker is a Canadian-born experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist and popular science author. (

Their peers are the ones who affect and influence a child the most due to the amount of time they spend with them as classmates and/or friends. Parents can influence their child too, for they may be unaware of their children listening to them when they happen to use profanity in a conversation with another person, added by Steven Pinker

Communication relationship defined as the verbal or non-verbal interaction. Communication involves almost every aspect of our interactions with others; for this reason, communication and relationships are inseparably connected. You cant have a relationship with someone without communicating with them. Communication involves how we express our thoughts, ideas, and feelings to others, including what we say and how we say it.

But when we communicate with others, we also communicate attitudes, values, priorities, and beliefs. No matter what we actually say to other people in words, we also send messages about what we think of them, what we think of ourselves, and whether or not were sincere and genuine in what we say. Verbal communication is those vocal or spoken languages while our non-verbal communication ” those things we dont say with words, but with gestures, our facial expressions, and our attitude speak volumes. (Rich, 1999)

An interview with Ms.Dalisay O. Balagbagan, a guidance counselor from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, said that the status living of the family really affects language/words the child uses and also those children living in slum areas are more prone to be influenced by the people around them and used profane language/words habitually.

Yung mgabata ,yungunanilangnatututunan ay kung anoyungunanilangnakikita, nai-imitate kasinila. Kung anoyungnakikitanila facial expressions, gestures, yunyungina-adopt nila. Ms. Dalisay added.

The reasons why children use swear words this often is because theyre exploring language. They might be testing a new word, perhaps to understand its meaning. They might also be trying to express a feeling such as frustration. Or they might simply be saying the word because it sounds funny or gets a reaction. Children might also be imitating others when they swear. (

The situation of children using profane language can be considered as an important issue in our country in terms of respecting and communicating properly. So, as the researchersgo on with this study, this will be a way or an instrument to understand and approach children regarding their use of profane language. This research is specifically important to the following:

To the Academe
This study will help them to conduct studies and researches regarding the appropriate way to communicate and to understand those children who use profane language. This study could also catch the eye of communication specialists and psychologists.

To the Students
This study would give them a larger view of understanding on how to deal with children engaged to profane language and could be also a guide for them to help themselves regarding the matter of using profane language. This could also help them with their family and other relatives to communicate and approach with them the right way.

To the Parents
The study could give them knowledge about their children who are possibly using or will be using profane language without them knowing. This could help them open up a conversation with their children regarding the matter, and could possibly help them stop or prevent their children who use profane language.

The purpose of this study is to understand the children and how other people respond or communicate with those people who use profane language,and to instill awareness to the people about the usage of profanity among children in our society today.


Children can easily adapt on every action and most especially about words/languages they hear from older people at this time. They did it on their own way and they did not mind to know the real meaning of what they were trying to copy or have copied from someone  even if its good or bad. Children of todays generation are engaged in profane languages since they were exposed early on streets and with their friends.

This leads the researchers to conduct a study regarding children that engaged in profane language.

This study aims to answer the question, How does the use of profane language among children affect their communication relationship with others?


The objective of the study is to know how the use of the profane language among children affects their communication relationship.

1)To present the profile of the participants in terms of age/gender/educational attainment (age range: 10-17years old).

2)To identify the different profane language /terms the participants use and discern its meaning according to the participants understanding.

3)To know the reason why the participants use such language.

4)To know what/who influenced the participants in using profane languages.

5)To describe situations where the participants usually use profane language.

6)To know the perspective of participants on the image they project due to their use of profane language.

7)To know how profane language affects the participants communication relationship with the following:

c)Other people in the society


Children learn how to communicate through what they hear and see from others. They learn to interact with the different people in their society and begin to pick up what they have learned since society has taught them that it is something acceptable. The way a child sees himself when he learns to use profane language changes over time, and this also affects his communication relationship with his family and peers for they may have a different point of view from them.

Thus, the researchers used the Symbolic Interactionism Theory by George Herbert Mead to know the interpretation and understanding of the child about the usage of profane language and how it affects the childs communication relationship with his family, peers, and other people in the society. It is the way we learn to interpret and give meaning to the world through our interactions with others.

The Symbolic Interactionism Theory by George Herbert Mead (which was continued by Herbert Blumer) is based on the idea that social structures and meanings are created and maintained in social interaction. The Symbolic Interaction perspective is based on how humans develop a complex set of symbols to give meaning to the world (LaRossa and Reitzes, 1993). The theory focuses attention on the way people interact through symbols, and these are words, gestures, rules, and roles. Barbara BallisLal summarizes the premises of this movement.

¢People make decisions and act in accordance with their subjective understandings of the situations in which they find themselves. ¢Social life consists of interaction processes rather than structures and is therefore constantly changing. ¢People understand their experience through the meanings found in symbols of their primary groups, and language is an essential part of social life.

¢The world is made up of social objects that are named and have socially determined meanings. ¢Peoples actions are based on their interpretations, in which the relevant objects and actions in the situation are taken into account and defined. ¢Ones self is a significant object and like all social objects is defined through social interaction with others.

Symbolic Interactionism has changed significantly since its early years, as Gary Fine suggests. It has expanded by adopting insights from other theoretical areas and has increasingly contributed to the work of other areas of social science. Today, according to Fine, symbolic interactionism has incorporated the study of how groups coordinate their actions, how emotions are understood and controlled, how reality is constructed, how self is created, how large social structures get established, and how public policy can be influenced. (Theories of Human Communication, Stephen W. Littlejohn, 2002, Seventh Edition)

The three cardinal concepts in Meads theory are the society, self, and mind. These categories are different aspects of the same general process, the social act. The social act is an umbrella concept under which nearly all other psychological and social processes fall. Society consists of the cooperative behaviors of societys members. Human cooperation requires that we understand others intentions. Cooperation consists of reading other peoples actions and intentions and responding in an appropriate way. We use meanings to interpret the happenings around us. Society is made possible by significant symbols.

The interplay between responding to others and responding to self is an important concept in Meads theory, and provides a good transition to his second concept the self. You have a self because you can respond to yourself as an object. You sometimes react favorably to yourself and feel pride, happiness, and encouragement. The primary way you come to see yourself as others see you is through rule taking or assuming the perspective of others, and this is what leads to have a self-concept.

Another term is generalized other, which is the way others see you. The self has two facets, each serving an essential function. The Iis the impulsive, unorganized, unpredictable part of you. The me is the generalized other, made up of the organized and consistent patterns shared with others. The
last process is the mind, which is a process. It is nothing more than interacting with one self.

There are three core principles: meaning, language, and thought or minding.

The Meaning itself is not inherent in objects for human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings that they have assigned to them. The meaning arises in the process of interaction between people. It takes place in the context of relationships whether with the family or community.

The Language is what human beings use to interact and it is the unique ability to name things. As children interact with family, peers and others, they learn the language and they also learn the social meanings attached to certain words (Language being the source of meaning). In Meads view, social life and communication between people are possible only when we understand and can use a common language, (Wood, 1997)

The Thought is an inner conversation with oneself. It is a reflective pause through which we modify our interpretation of symbols.


The study aims to know how the use of profane language among children affects their communication relationship. Children work their relationships with everyone through interaction in their everyday lives. Unknowingly, they learn to adapt the language or behaviour these people use.

The study is premised on the theory that the childs relationship is built through the way he communicates with his family, peers and other people in the society, and vice versa. Basically, a child hears a certain profane language, whether it is towards him or to another person, and the child will immediately process in his mind that repeating the same word is okay because an adult said it.

It is either he will feel closer to his peers who taught or whom he imitated the words from, or he will be more distant to his family, or he will be more intact with others in his surroundings. There are many instances that cause children to use profanity. The child may also have a change in self-image whenever he uses the language, seeing how it makes others treat him.

The Symbolic Interactionism Theory explains the way a childs actions in the society, learning, and mind moves and changes. He has his own self-concept and how others see him, and the way he has adapted the profane language. The symbols they developed gave meaning to what we now know as profane language, for the society knows it but they do not fully understand the meaning behind these words. The children then use these words with a different meaningand understanding in mind, and since the older people know its meaning, they seem to either encourage the child to further use it or prevent themselves from doing so.

The framework shown below explains how the usage of profane language among children affects their communication relationshipwith others.

Figure 1.0


1.The participants are children from a low type of environment and are exposed early to profane languages.

2.Some profane languages/terms that a child uses are: Gago, which is used to tell or show a person hatred and Walanghiya, which used to tell a person that he/she is shameless. The child does not fully know or understand the real meaning behind these words.

3.Children use profane language as part of their communication to express people how they feel, whether theyre happy or angry. They also use profane language to fit in in the society.

4.Children are influenced by their parents, friends, and even the society that they live in.

5.Examples of a situation when a child uses profane language is when they are playing around with their friends, when having a debate with someone, or having a conversation with a friend. They either use it unconsciously or to make themselves feel comfortable around others who use it as well.

6.Children think that using profane language is just a way of expressing their feelings. They dont mind what other people would think of them.

7.Family becomes more aware and more cautious when they hear their child use profane language. Some friends will have a stronger communication relationship because they too use profane language. As for other people in the society, they distance themselves when encountering children using profane language.


To be able to understand more this study the researcher had some up selected words to help and provide appropriate knowledge for the readers. These words are defined based on this study:

Profane it is characterized as curse, abusive, vulgar, or irreverent language often used with other verbs to indicate forcefulness, intensity, and enthusiasm to express oneself.

Innocent- free from moral wrong; without sin; pure: innocent children.

Language- a body of words and a system for their use of common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition.

Imitate- To copy the actions, appearance, mannerisms, or speech, act like or follow a pattern or style set by another.

Instinctively rising from impulse; spontaneous and unthinking; instinctual

Behavior is the range of actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with their environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment.

Communication Relationship the process that we use to communicate our ideas, thoughts, and feelings to another person.

Rhetoric The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers that attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.

Symbolic interactionism the way we learn to interpret and give meaning to the world though our interactions with others.

Identities the self-meaning in a role.

Roles refer to collections of expectations that define regularized patterns of behaviour within family life

Influence the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.

Taboo forbidden to profane use or contact because of what are held to be dangerous supernatural powers; banned on grounds of morality or taste; banned as constituting, a risk.

Cuss alteration of curse.

Blasphemy the act of insulting or showing contempt, or lack of reverence for God.

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