The link between swearing and religion is not always as obvious as it seems. Take France which has been a quite secular nation for some time, their swear words are all related to female sexuality. Latinos swearing often involves homophobia. In Quebec, until FUCK YOU entered our language in the 70s, we swore solely on church words:
And if were REALLY pissed off, we string a bunch of them together. For me, as a feminist woman, cussing with religious words is much more appealing than cussing with female sexuality. From the Australians I've met, cussing with female words also seems popular (cow, cunt) even out of the mouth of women...
So in French I cuss with religion, but in English I feel restricted to fuck-you and it's variants, which is sad :(
A swear is a denigration of something sacred. Maybe we should start using capitalism and democracy for our cussing in North America, since after religion, capitalism is surely the most sacred concept around... hmmm, yep, I think I'm going to start looking into that:
My god! ... My Bush!
Jesus! ... Friedman!
bless you! ... money you!
Holy Shit! ... ok, that one still works :)
You reminded me you can say:
I remembered an odd religious swear that I have heard somewhere (I'm paraphrasing):
holy dancing cow of vishnu
When my son was 7, he asked who decided a word was "bad" and he wanted to know why we all follow that persons opinion, still. I loved that he was able to be so objective, so young.
If we say anything after a sneeze, it's "Sternutation," as that is the act of sneezing.
My family also recognizes the religiosity in language, and we consciously respond with different words, or none. It seems that people react more uncomfortably when nothing is said, as if they're forced to see that their expectation for a response is the only thing causing them discomfort, because a smile from us is not enough.
I'll often practice being quiet when I would normally use an exclamation. Seeing my minds reflex to speak, and not actually acting on it, is somehow rewarding for me, less stress.
Swearing is a religious concept. Before religion, someone stubbing their toe would simply scream OUCH! In the sense that all sex is considered 'la la sacred' by most religions, even fuck is a religious swear when you really boil it down.
Maybe as atheists, who supposedly are better educated and have better vocabulary, we can just forget about swearing altogether, and simply use appropriate language for any given event...
Indeed, we live in a culture where swearing has evolved into a major linguistic pattern, I think many of us are accustomed to the 'facile' nature of using swear words left right and centre instead of a more interesting vocabulary. I swear A LOT, whenever I'm visiting my agnostic/atheist mother, she finds my obsession with swearing annoying. And often requests that I cut it out. I don't think she is 'right' or 'wrong' about her request. But my mother has always lived outside pop culture, whereas I've been a partaker of pop-culture and many of the hedonistic pleasures it involves.
I've often discussed the linguistic patterns of swearing before in a strictly cultural sense, but this discussion of swearing's linguistic value to atheists is an interesting and novel topic, on which I'll do some additional pondering... :)
I've always found that food products make good swear words, and they get noticed more. One of my favorites is "cheese nibbles."
My favorite swear phrase also involves food and was coined by Kurt Vonnegut. "Take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut."
If I want to cuss something scandalous around religious people, I usually say, "bloody Jesus on a stick!"
You reminded me of a swear that works better in croatin, but here it goes:
F*ck soup made from nails Jesus Christ was crucified with