There is a perennial debate about whether using expletives in written or spoken exchange is a sign of intelligence or stupidity. Before writing this I did a bit of digging and this topic has produced much debate through the millennia.
Unsurprisingly, the bible covers this off in typical “this is bad, don’t do it” style. After all, what would one expect from the manual documenting the rules by which religion attempts to control it’s followers. It has also been through so many iterations at the hands of so many special interest groups that it is no surprise that you can find a version that says what you need it to. For example: Ephesians 4:29 apparently tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Define unwholesome exactly? This is the nub of the swearing argument as there is no hard and fast list of “unwholesome words”. In some circumstances an appropriately used fuck may help those who listen. However, to paraphrase from the good book; one man’s meat….
Yesterday I used the word fuck in my post and a friend remarked on this possibly not reflecting well on me. In my circles an appropriately deployed fuck is both acceptable and necessary. In theirs it isn’t. That’s the way it is. Ranting and repetitive use of the word fuck, to me, is unnecessary overkill and spoils the effect. To others it fits just so and to them it adds the emphasis they feel is needed.
I can get on my intellectual high horse and look down on them for overuse of the word fuck. Others can do the same to me. If you invest the word fuck (or many others, fuck is a good example) with power to shock and offend then it will do just that. Additionally, you weaken yourself because anyone who wants to try and shock/offend/unbalance can then use this utterance to do so.
My mother, raising three boys as she did, had a great reaction to overhearing one of us say fuck. We were collectively marched to the bookshelf and the Oxford Dictionary of Slang was produced. We were made to look up the word fuck, recite the definition and use it in a variety of sentences. Took the fun right out of it. FYI it is first found in use in 1475 in an old English poem called Flen Flyys. However you slice it there is no denying that fuck has turned into a very interesting word. I wish my dear Mother also had this explanation from Monty Python:
From unwholesome swearing to reading and research in one easy step. Fucking cool eh?
3 thoughts on “Blovember #20 – On Swearing”
The first time my eldest swore at home I asked him what it meant and then to recite all the other ones he knew.
He refused, as he couldn’t do it in front of mum (sic), so we had a spelling test instead. He got most of them right and there was only one obvious ommission…
We now have an agreement that there are words the kids will use a in the playground, words for home and “would you speak like that in front of your Granfmother?” words, with the understanding that there are times and places for it and quite honestly, washing their mouths out with soap isn’t going to stop them. Or me,
My daughter knows certain words are not School Words as unenlightened – but with the power to ruin her day nonetheless – staff will not react well.
I’ve never understood the problem with the appropriate use of all the words in one’s vocabulary. Although, obviously I can’t condone gratuitous swearing. That would be fucking terrible.
See Sheidlower on the ‘F-Word’ – http://www.amazon.com/The-F-Word-Edition-Jesse-Sheidlower/dp/0375706348
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