Can it be that swearing is a signal of a ‘civilised’ society? In Seed, Steven Pinker suggests that it may be so.
What does [the increasing incidence of swearing] have to do with violence? Contrary to the popular belief that we are living in horrifically violent times, rates of homicide in the West have plummeted ten- to a hundredfold over the centuries. The sociologist Norbert Elias noted that this pacification process, correlated with other changes in everyday manners.