It is interesting to note that profanity exists in every language. When I began to learn Spanish the first words I learned were the “bad words”. It was funny because I could say them and most people didn’t know what they meant. I did get caught a few times…
Profanity changes over time. When I was growing up my parents would have washed my mouth out for saying ass, or damn or hell, now those are pretty benign words. Shakespeare writings are full of profanity but few recognize it now. Words like sblood (God’s blood) and zounds (God’s wound) cause little ruckus now but in the day they were considered especially outrageous. And, do you know anyone who shops at Gadzooks? That was another reference to the crucifixion of Christ (God’s hooks).
Although I cannot quote book and page, I understand that cursing in public will get you a fine. However, for the most part bad language is more prevalent today than it was in the 50’s and 60’s when I was growing up.
Does that mean it is more accepted? In some circles yes, but for many , myself included, I see the use of bad language as a clear indication that one has limited vocabulary. Maybe it’s the teacher in me but with the vast and rich texture of our language, surely one could find a more appropriate word.
So why do people cuss? There are generally considered two types of profanity: those that refer to deity and those that refer to bodily functions. Both can be quite vile. I think, and this is strictly opinion, that many swear to be accepted by a group; they think it is expected. Others think it makes them feel important (don’t ask me why). For some it is a natural reflex; stub your toe and, “Oh shit!” just pops out. I learned to say “Oh sugar!”…my mother was rather prudish. But I think the reason most people cuss is to make a point, whatever that point is.
So now…is it sacrilegious to use “the lord’s name in vain”? Probably to some, but I tend to believe that most people are not thinking of the lord when they use profanity. I think “taking the lord’s name in vain” is something else altogether…but that’s my opinion.