Falstaff was a master of the imaginative curse. In Henry IV, Part I, the wayward knight calls Prince Hal and others starvelings, whoreson caterpillars, bacon-fed knaves, and bull’s pizzles. To many, Falstaff is just the sort of individual one might expect to curse so often and well: crude and hot-tempered, an inveterate drunkard and all-around scoundrel. But what if swearing weren’t the mark of an impoverished character or intellect, but rather the sign of a great communicator? According to Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing, letting loose with the occasional expletive is an excellent way of communicating meaning. When you swear at someone, This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.