I swear…

Random thought: swearing probably has its own connections in the brain, that trigger particular responses going beyond the words themselves. I mean, I don’t know the particular mechanics of it, it’s just a thought I’ve had after hearing people in Québec swear so many times. See, swear words are entirely different in France and in Québec. In France we have plenty of nasty words mostly revolving around sex and all things related. In Québec, swearing is religious (and they have a wealth of swear words that makes one long for the long-gone time when one could still let out a string of curses and display some imagination…). For English-speakers, it’s mostly as if one side of the ocean said ‘whore’ when they’re upset, and the other side said ‘sacristy’.

Anyway. My point is, when I hear French people swearing, I definitely feel something light up in my brain. There’s aggressiveness I can perceive, and not just in the tone. That’s not to say I hide under the table every time, but the atmosphere gets a tiny bit more tense. When people here swear… well, my intellect registers that it’s swearing and it’s supposed to be nasty, but the aggressiveness receptors (or whatever they’re called) just don’t pick up anything. In fact I actually find that cute.

Perhaps that’s part of the explanation why people here always sound so gentle and relaxed all the time: when they’re being aggressive, we simply don’t perceive it. Although one has to admit that they’re still far more polite than we are.


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