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Monday, May 13, 2013

Why Do You Swear?

swearing in cartoon Suomi: Kiroileva sarjakuva...
swearing in cartoon Suomi: Kiroileva sarjakuvahahmo Nederlands: Schelden en vloeken in strips (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

          This is the second of a series that began with my May 6th post.   If you missed that first post, you might want to start there to get an overview of the topic.  The comments are well worth reading through so if you did not see those you may also want to go back to read them.  Thank you to all of you who participated in that excellent discussion.

   Introduction

       In my previous post I asked the question "Why is swearing important?"   Of course, I asked this question with tongue in cheek since I do not see any reason why swearing is important.  And from the answers I received, the best answer I got was to make speech a bit more colorful.  Isn't that what adjectives, synonyms, metaphors, and other poetic and linguistic devices are for?   I've yet to get an answer that I find absolutely suitable and I doubt that I will.   What can be communicated through crass language that offends can be achieved equally or better through creative and intelligent use of language.

       However, accepting the fact that many people use blue language in their everyday conversation or for other means of expression and don't have a problem with it, and recognizing that others who might not use the language have no problem hearing others who do,  I would like to understand the reasoning behind use of blue language.  I will present my opinions about this and then listen to your thoughts in the comments.
     
Why Do People Swear?

      I will be approaching this question from the following perspectives:
  • Intent of the action
  • Background of the users
  • The language filter depending on circumstances
  • The effect on society


Intent of the action 

  1. One of the most common reasons cited for using profanity is venting after an event that causes anger, frustration, or pain.  This is often a isolated reaction that does not reflect the typical speech of the user.  "Keele University researchers Stephens, Atkins, and Kingston found that swearing relieves the effects of physical pain. Stephens said "I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear". However, the overuse of swear words tends to diminish this effect." (Wikipedia)    There might be better ways to deal with these situations than using profanity.               

     2.  To appear cool, bad, or naughty.  Profanity is prevalent in rap and other forms of modern music as well as in movies and other entertainment media.  Users can identify with thug or gangster life or certain celebrities.  Using obscene language will make the users seem less like nerds, religious followers, or boring types.  The incessant attitude that others should "just get over it" and accept their language exhibits a selfishness that is similar to the spoiled child syndrome.
     3.  To intimidate or offend others.   There are probably some sort of psychological roots to this one.  Does the user of the blue language have some unresolved inner anger about their own lives or in feelings toward others?   There could be any number of reasons an individual would deliberately want to upset others by using certain language.   The causal roots may stem back to a young age or be something that has developed in a latter stage of life. 
     4.  To be funny.  Once again there could be some psychological implications to this reason.  I will explore this one further in my next post.
     5.  Because others in their peer group do it.   This is one of those jumping on the bandwagon things where a user of profanity wants to be accepted as part of their group.  If everyone else swears, the user will be doing it too.
     6.  It seems like the liberated liberal thing to do.  This is probably mostly the case with the more educated and higher income swearers.  The swearing by these individuals probably also can be connected with some of the above reasons.
     7.  Habit.  After starting the swearing for one of the previously cited reasons, eventually the mode of speaking becomes ingrained in the user's speech and often they don't even notice they are doing it. 

Background of the users
   1. Upbringing -- The blue language was commonly used in the users family.
    2.  Cultural influence -- Certain groups of people, especially in urban areas and certain occupational settings, accept the blue language as part of the culture.
   3. Psychological issues-- This would be related to some of the issues listed in the category of "Intent".   This might involve trauma at some stage of life, depression, anger, fear, or any number of other situations that might influence a user to resort to blue language as a means to attempt to express their inner emotions or to gain attention.
The language filter depending on circumstances

       Most users of profanity are able to circumstantially control their use of the language depending on the time, place, and audience.   Typically they would not use profanity in a situation where its use could be problematic for them such as a job interview or an appearance in court.   Fortunately, most casual users of blue language will respect the company they are in and filter out obscenities so as not to offend.  They swear when they are in company that accepts the language or if they intend on offending or upsetting others.

The effect on society

      During the 1960's profanity in public became common in demonstrations such as those against the Viet Nam War.   "Liberated" groups and movements often incorporated profanity into their protests against societal institutions.   As the swearing become more common and less scandalous, the language became more common in movies, music, and other forms of entertainment and expression.  Now more people swear because it seems to be more the norm having less repercussions for the user.  

Where Do You Fit In?

       Now take an honest look inside of yourself.   If you are a casual user of profanity in your typical conversation, why do you do it based on the above assessments?  Or do you disagree with the analysis I have presented?   If you disagree with what I've said here, on which points do you disagree, why, and what is your alternative analysis?   Is there a truly good reason that you infuse profanity into your speech?   
       


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45 comments:

  1. In casual conversation I don't use it. Depending on my audience, I might use damn or a similar word. Unless I'm angry, I just don't talk that way.
    And since you've read both of my books, you know I can't write it either.
    Cussing is liberal? Interesting way to look at it!

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  2. I don't nor brought up to swear,and brought me own three likewise. .....but I know someone who is most offensive well he/she has the problem and better get themselves sorted out and quick.
    Good post Lee.
    Yvonne.

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  3. Hey, Lee, I, too, find swearing offensive, especially the f bomb. We were brought up not to swear. My dad's only swear word was the "s" word, and I'm afraid that carried through the whole family of kids. Children learn what they hear. Our English teacher drummed into our heads in high school that only people with a limited vocabulary resort to swearing. I guess there are times when just an ordinary word won't do, but I don't believe in sprinkling one's everyday conversation with expletives. That's it for me. Best regards to you, my friend. Ruby

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  4. I rarely swear and don't like it when others do. I think it's rude, shows poor manners frankly. The filter thing sure comes into play. You think it's ok to use the same fowl language around 60-70 year olds you use with your 16 year old friends? It's not. I might disagree with your statement about liberals though. On any given day on facebook you can see if you believe in Jesus, like and share followed by the same user dropping the F bomb...don't like my country leave it type mentality. I always shake my head and think really...minutes ago you're listed what you're thankful for, posting a scripture, asking for prayers that you get the laundry done, and now you cussing everyone out...how very conservative of you. It seems in my very unofficial study that they by and large are un-educated on welfare-medicaid (which they also post about), therefore un-employed spewing their version of Christian Love at the same spreading Hate for any who disagree with them including the government they get their livelihood from.
    Oozing Out My Ears

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  5. Playing catch up (here and in life)...
    as to swearing - timely topic. I seldom swear in print and never when dealing with students. I do use inappropriate language when venting with peers - primarily when enraged and/or frustrated. As an under thirty (back in the day) it was part of the culture I was a part of and no one thought anything of it. When kids came along, I effectively banished it from my vocabulary. Funny that you should bring this up because I have been realizing lately that I don't like the habit that I have gotten into it - no biggee to drop the f bomb in the presence of peers (especially since they do it too). Again, it is the habit in my left leaning circle but I would actually like to banish it again. I somehow want to be above it. If I can eliminate the personal consumption of alcohol, don't you think I can eliminate profanity? Ugh! What will my lefty friends think though? :)

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  6. I recently realised I swear more than I realise. In my case it seems to be habit - left over from the society in which I lived when in the UK. I still don't really like to read blogs with lost of f words, I find it unnecessary and usually swearing for the sake of swearing rather than fitting into the blog at all.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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  7. My dad was in the navy and taught me most of the naughty words I know though I try to only use them under duress! I don't mind swearing but too much can be too much!

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  8. Thanks for the comments so far. I'm still waiting for some of the big time users though.

    Keep in mind that my list are some reasons that I think people might swear on a regular basis. They are separate reasons that might in some cases be combined, but not all the reasons would have the blanket result of causing a person to swear regularly.

    A couple of points about what has been brought up so far:

    Swearing is a "liberal" action-- Conservatives certainly swear as well, but I am suggesting that in the groups taken as a whole you would find far more acceptance of swearing by liberals than conservatives therefore those in a liberal gathering might be more prone to using profanity than those in the opposing camp. For example, if you had one room with 100 Obama supporters and another with 100 Romney supporters, where would you expect to hear the most swearing? I'm just guessing.

    The occasion for swearing--I am by no means condemning anyone who lets one fly on the the spur when something bad or frustrating happens, but my biggest complaint is when swearing becomes a part of everyday speech when there is better language that can be used.

    Lee

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  9. Thanks for the topic. It has made me look at myself and why and how much I swear. The whys are harder to define -- and no, I don't use it in casual conversation. On the rare times when I do, the person who I am talking with usually makes a funny face or comments. Guess I need to stop. My swearing is usually limited to under my breath in frustration or louder in the car. Gotta stop both of those. I am sure I can think of better words to release/express my frustration.

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  10. Sometimes I tend to swear out of anger, like without sounding like some spoiled ass, if I was really annoyed at something and felt infuriated about it I'd feel like I was making the point and would feel far less tense if I used swear words in my rants, other times it's just simply down to habit. Great series idea as well Lee.

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  11. Wow Arlee, you put a lot of time and research into this post and I have to say that a person's speech and a writer's language are two different things. For example my husband was in the Army and can swear with the best of them but when he writes a story he would probably never use a curse word. I have naughty characters or upset characters say things I probably would say if I was in their shoes. Verbally, I think it's mostly for attention. Most folks don't expect me to swear and when I do it gets attention! LOL

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  12. Like I said in the previous post I myself avoid cursing but accept that people (even myself on rare occasions) curse for different reason. My mother curses when shegets mad or frustrated. My father almost never curses. I mean less than I rarely curse at all level of cursing. And that to me is almost saint like, way to go dad. Love to too Mum.

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  13. Thea -- You and I sound similar in this. I'm not going to say I'm some Mr. Pure guy because I have let words fly when I could have taken a better approach. Most of the time I hold my tongue and I don't use the words in conversation at all unless the conversation specifically pertains to the topic (a rarity). But alone I will sometimes spout the words or sometimes I will think them. I'm trying to find more positive and constructive ways to deal with those special times.

    Yeamie -- Many of my friends who still use profanity in their conversation do so out of habit I think.

    Desert -- Actually the time spent in this has been cumulative over 40 years or so. I first started taking an interest in this topic when I was in college so I've had a lot of time to think about it. I also already had a couple of posts already started on the topic so I ran with one of those. The topic of profanity is always an interesting one to explore.

    Lee

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  14. Sheena --Kudos to your dad. My father was much the same. He was usually very careful in expressing himself verbally. I'll probably write a post related to this on my memoir blog. Maybe in the near future.

    Lee

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  15. if i fail at something... i drop some colorful words. if it works with certain groups of people, if it should lighten the mood. mostly when i drive, people drive so bad and i find myself behind them... only to discover they are texting/talking.

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  16. I try not to swear. It is a turn-off to many people... in both conversation, and in writing.

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  17. I was told "Profanity is a feeble minds way of expressing itself forcefully." I have enough words in my vocabulary that I do not need to swear.

    It used to be just the most vulgar men swore, then it became more manly for them all to swear, then women wanted to be tough like the men. I have no idea why anyone would want to adopt the worse parts of another persons behavior.

    Can you imagine if the word chair were to be used as a swearword?
    "Where in the chair did I put my glasses?"

    "That chairing chairer cut me off on the chairing freeway."

    Just a thought.
    love, LinnAnn
    http://linnannpike.blogspot.com

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  18. You are who you associate with, which explains peer pressure. And habit.

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  19. I find that individuals who are smug about not swearing are generally stick-in-the-mud, arrogant know-it-alls who think they know best about EVERYTHING. I'd like to reverse the question: Instead of asking why people DO use "blue language" (whatever that means), why DON'T people use it more? While you have pointed out upbringing and education and liberal-versus-conservative and a need to offend or shock or add humor as a pro for cursing, I would say just as much is true about those who refrain. People who have a serious issue with cursing are generally (and I'd like the term GENERALLY) to be noted here before a bunch of people jump on my arse explaining why they are the exception to the rule I'm about to smack down)... non-cursers are GENERALLY power freaks who like to boss other people around because they have an exact idea of what is proper and what is not. Examine your own approach to this topic, Arlee. In the first paragraph you mentioned asking this question tongue-in-cheek as no answer will satisfy you. Well, gee, I wish I'd known that in the first dang place, because I wouldn't have answered it in your previous post on this topic. I kind of find that phrasing a bit antagonistic and, quite frankly, RUDE. You're poking with a stick, people who just want to be left to their own language choices, and then have the nerve to wonder why they are both offended and defensive of their choices. We curse cuz we wanna. It's the God Squad who seems to the have the issue --- not just with cursing but with every single daggone thing they can't control in other people. If my language is BLUE, then yours is PASTE. Dull and sticky and just plain no good. Ecru. Beige. Off white. Eggshell. No thanks, I'll take stripes and polka-dots and paisley and fun ANY DAY over boring vanilla plainness.

    It sounds as though I'm attempting to encourage others to join me in using potty language, or as though I might be trying to gain your approval... "May I please be allowed to curse, your majesty?" I'm not. I don't need permission to curse. I'm a college educated writer with my own history. I've served my country and taken in abused teens. I've done a lot of good in my life and have no regrets. I can pop a beer and use F-bombs and GDs and S-words to my leisure. I probably wouldn't be so insulting to your audience's boring nature if I didn't feel so provoked by your audience for my colorful state of existence.

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  20. Jeremy -- It's funny how we will respond to people we don't even know when they are in a vehicle. Would we respond the same way in a face to face encounter? I'll never forget the time I got angry at another driver and flipped him off and then realized it was someone I went to church with. That certainly put me i an awkward position.

    Lorraine -- I do think you're right.

    Lorraine -- People will say that profanity is just words, but words have meanings. I guess a lot of women take equal rights to the next level with swearing. I don't understand it myself.

    L.Diane -- So true!

    Lee

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  21. Andi-Roo -- So perhaps your issue is anger? I certainly won't declare that I "know-it-all". Otherwise, I would toss out topics for conversation or ask questions. I'm trying to conduct a sensible debate by offering my thoughts on the matter and seeing what readers toss back to me in an intelligent manner. Again I appreciate your sense of respect for my comment section.

    My initial question was to me somewhat facetiously presented because I for one could think of no truly reasonable answer. It was a genuine question though to which no one gave me a good answer that sways my opinion. And to be considered rude for offering my opinion in what I felt was a polite manner is somewhat ironic. I don't have much proof to suggest that people who don't approve of cursing are controlling. On the contrary the ones I've known are usually much more tolerant and forgiving than those who have underlying anger issues and tend to bully others with cursing, offense, and name calling.

    If you curse "cuz you wanna" then why can't others have opinions because they want to and why if they express their opinions they must be attacked and condemned as being whatever the attackers want to label them with? How does this promote peaceful and constructive dialogue?

    It's unfortunate that you want to consider those who would like to see the language of society cleaned up a bit as your enemies or refer to us in derogatory ways. You don't know me or them just as we don't know you. I'll bet you that in blind meeting where we had no idea who the other was we'd probably be very polite and congenial towards each other. Maybe even be friends. The cyberworld can be a strange place.

    Thanks for your heartfelt comment.

    Lee

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  22. I don't swear. I'm not offended by it, depending on the situation, but swearing is just not part of my vocabulary. It would come out sounding stupid and out of character.

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  23. It's just language. That's how I see it. It doesn't offend me. But neither to I want to hear it constantly. It depends. Some people say it like gosh or awesome, and it doesn't bother me at all. Perhaps because it's not meant as offensive, but just a word.

    I guess tone and attitude bother me more than the words used. I do swear, but usually when I'm on a rant and only with people I feel comfortable being completely myself with.

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  24. Great post. Thank you for for asking this question. I think we should often take time out to stop and ask why we do the things we do. We might be surprised at the answers.

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  25. I used it to fit in, then it just became a habit. I don't mind if other swear either, as long as it isn't over much. You're right, there are other ways to express oneself, but a word is just a word to me. I do keep my language clean depending on the company and circumstances.

    ....dhole

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  26. To address the opinions that profanity is just language or words, keep in mind that words have meanings and connote certain concepts. They are words that express something in particular and often it can be offensive to some. Otherwise why use those particular words. Can we say that other words referring to race, gender, or sexuality are just words as well if they have been successfully argued to be elements of hate speech? I'll be addressing this in my post next Monday, but I do want those who say that profanity and the like is just words to understand that they are not just nonsense words with no meaning. The words have intents and one of those intents is to offend or shock.

    Jenn -- So much of the time we just do things without thinking. I'm just suggesting we all think a bit about the things we do then we might have a better understanding of how others feel.

    Lee

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  27. Intent has a much to do with it all as much as semantics do,don't you think? The word stupid to a child is as bad as dropping an f-bomb. Using 'sheesh'in place of sh** is more acceptable. Why? The intent was the same, but I refrain from typing those two words for fear of offending. Why again?

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  28. T-M-- You are very correct in my opinion. To me intent is the biggest issue otherwise I think we could argue that profanities are just words and language. If the language was intended to reasonably express ideas like any other words then there wouldn't be an issue. The words and expressions are specifically associated with offensive or inappropriate ideas and are essentially a verbal slap in the face to some or maybe a good-natured slap on the back for others. They are not universally accepted by all as something everyone likes to hear. If this were so then people would have to find other words or means to shock and offend.

    Lee

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  29. Swearing is important because sometimes a word is worth more than a thousand pictures.

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  30. I know this isn't a good reason to swear, but I tend to swear around people who swear and when I'm not around people who swear, I don't. I do have an issue with the F word. I don't mind it, but will never say it. My friend once told me it sounded wrong coming out of my mouth. I took it as a compliment.

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  31. Jan -- I guess those wouldn't be pretty pictures either.

    Sydney --So it's a peer group thing for who which is not uncommon. I don't use the F- word in conversations as a rule, but I have used it in an intimate context which I think is where it belongs.

    Lee

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  32. You sure can get a discussion going...I don't really have much to add from my comment on the other post. Like I said, it's about control when my life is out of my control. Then being able to control what comes out of my mouth is invigorating. But I only swear with my one friend who has the same philosophy. I guess what I'm saying is that there's a time and place where it may be appropriate, but as a general rule, I don't think it belongs in our daily conversation. Especially as a parent - certainly don't want to condone that type of language in my teenagers, but I would have nothing to stand on if that was the way I talked.
    Tina @ Life is Good

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  33. This has got me thinking. I know why I swear now. Strictly habit. There are words that have crept into my vocabulary that I use without thinking. I'd say I'm a low tier swearer...w-t-h rather than w-t-f. But when and how did it begin?

    I didn't swear growing up. Dad did. Mom didn't. And my brother and I wouldn't dare. I didn't pick up much at school. Back in those days, swearing within earshot of a teacher got you detention. Swearing AT a teacher got you suspended. But I did tend to pick up anything I heard a lot. Whatever the catch phrase of the day was, I started using it.

    I guess it came with young adulthood. Mom wasn't around to disapprove. And other people's bad habits became mine. I don't remember it ever being a conscious decision. No, "I'm a big girl now and I'll say what I want." It just sort of crept in.

    I'm not sure how that fits in your assessments.

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  34. Tina--Context is important. And parents should try to set a good example for their kids. Thank you.

    L.D. --Outstanding comment. There was virtually no swearing in my pre-high school days. Only the mildest of expletives. Like me, it sounds like you were conditioned by your upbringing. Peer influence affected your speech and mine. I never was much of a user of profanity, but it came easier in the company of certain people. In your case it sounds like a matter of peer influence followed by habit, but the fact that you describe yourself as "low-tier" seems to indicate that the filters have remained in place to some extent. Thank you for a great comment.

    Lee

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  35. Arlee,

    Fascinating subject and, based on the enthusiastic response of your readers, absolutely a topical issue.

    As a writer, I cannot afford to be afraid of language. There are many ways in which I can express myself and on occasion a term which some may deep offensive ends up being the correct choice. It's entirely a matter of context.

    I am one of eight children who were brought up in the strictest of environments when it comes to manners. My parents forbade any and all cursing. My father said it best — "Cursing means you don't have a grasp of the english language."

    In principle, I firmly agree.

    And then, in the 1970's, George Carlin came along and introduced the world to "The 7 Words You Can't Say on Television". Very blue, but all too true and still relentlessly hilarious. Carlin's brilliance was in combining shock value with an undeniable honesty about people's inborn prejudice against all profanity.

    As an adult with a broad and seasoned vocabulary, I find my comfort zone falls somewhere in the soft middle ground between these two extremes.

    I'm sure we all agree the most common use of blue language is simply laziness. I hold that this inability to restrain oneself is keenly representative of a blanket disrespect for all within earshot. To these inconsiderate outbursts I am vehemently opposed.

    However, in the dramatic context of today's entertainment and literature, there is admittedly some verbiage that simply cannot be beat for emotional impact — but again, within an appropriate context. There is something so undeniably gleeful in John McClane's first utterance of the phrase "Yippee Kiyay, Mother-****er." At that moment, and in response to that verbal exchange, it felt appropriate to the culture at that time. Of course, abuse soon followed which robbed the phrase of any humorous power it may have had originally.

    That being said, genuine moderation should be observed in all things — language included.

    As for liberals and conservatives, I have heard both side curse with equal and inventive ardor. But we must appreciate that to these people, the phrases "Fiscal Responsibility" and "Welfare State" are obscenities that far outweigh any number of F-bombs.

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  36. Who knew swearing could cause such a variety of comments? In my home we were rasied to consider even words that implied swearing off-limits because the intent was still there. I learned other ways to express surprise, joy, pain, etc, and still don't see the need for swearing. In our office we discourage it among the staff for professional reasons: we are a pediatric office and we ask our patients to refrain from swearing as well. More than once I've been asked to refer a child to a different specialist because of a provider's language, both in and out of the office. They've also switched to our office because of this. This surprised me on some because these were patients who swore out of habit. I know we have freedom of speech and language doesn't indicate intelligence, but for some patients it seems to decrease confidence in their provider. I guess it goes to what we consider professional behavior. It's something to think about when you're choosing your words.

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  37. Michael -- Well expressed. My problem is as you say, not the words and expressions of profanity, but the overuse that causes them to lose their impact.

    Bethie -- For the sake of professionalism in a workplace, especially one that deals with serving the public, there is no place for improper language that may run off customers. I would definitely lose confidence in my doctor if he or she swore while examining me--I think it would actually scare me.

    Lee

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  38. >>...I'm a college educated writer...

    Ahhh... yeah, I could have guessed that.

    N*gger.
    B*tch.
    C*nt.
    C*on.
    S*ut.
    Wh*re.
    Sp*ck.
    M*ck.
    Ch*nk.
    J*p.
    Go*k.
    N*p.
    Cra*ker.
    H*nky.
    Kr*ut.

    Just harmless words, As*holes?

    [LEE, feel free to delete this comment if you'd like to, but I feel I've made a valid point with it.]

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  39. StMc -- Actually this is partly where I was heading for my next post. Plenty of people like to cite the issue of Freedom of Speech except for the words they don't like. There are words to offend everyone, but some people like to be selective.

    Lee

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  40. BINGO!, Brother!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  41. I think the two main points here are in regards to intent and what we as individuals find offensive.

    As I stated in my comment on your previous post regarding swearing, blue language does not offend me and I use it all the time. Yes, I have a filter and yes, I know when to engage my filter...and I do this out of respect for other people's sensibilities. Respect goes both ways and when I see generalized statements questioning a person's intelligence, education and suggesting the use of blue language is due to laziness, anger issues and intolerance..THOSE attitudes are disrespectful to me. If you expect someone to consider thinking before they speak, should that not be true of everyone? Why stop at vulgar language? Again, this is one of those fine lines...why should I be expected to watch what I say as to not offend someone, but that rule not apply to someone else whose politics, religious views, ethics, morals or beliefs I find offensive?

    As for intent, my mother doesn't swear, and says things like "gosh" and "darn"...the intent being the same as a swear word, but she chooses to express herself with different words. My point is, her intent when she says darn is the exact same as when I drop an f-bomb...she just employs a different descriptor

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  42. Maple-- My categorizations were not meant to blanket all who swear. People with anger issues might be very apt to swear, but I don't think we could say that all people who swear have a deep rooted anger within them. Swearing is no means an absolute indicator of low intelligence and there are many uneducated people who don't swear at all. My suggestion is that there can be many reasons that people swear and the users of the language might want to do a self-assessment of why they do what they do. And I think this goes for other things besides swearing.

    I agree with what you are saying about intent, but I also think that you and I are talking about two different things. Venting is only one intent, but there may be an underlying desire to offend or just do something "naughty". With repeated use it turns into habit and in that case offending others may be less of an issue. However if you are able to filter the language it shows an awareness that this language can offend.

    In regard to being offended by religious, political, or whatever ideas we must look at the intent of the person delivering this message. If they are true believers in a cause or an ideal then their intent is a positive one that is meant to save you or convert you to their way of thinking. I realize that often the method of delivery might come across as offensive, but in reality this is mostly due to disagreement or not wanting to hear other ideas. Profanity has no higher ideal that is intended to uplift or inform others and can only be seen as an intent to offend, shock, embarrass, or whatever the result is.

    Of course if the person trying to convert another or condemn another for what they believe doesn't really believe what they are arguing for, then it is hypocritical and offensive. But how do we always know that? A person overhearing such a conversation from another table in a restaurant might listen with interest or merely ignore the discussion with no offense taken, but if the other conversation is obscenity laden and you're eating with your family there's a big difference. Ideas are one think, but words intended for shock value are another thing altogether.

    I do think it's interesting to consider the origins of the words where at one time they were used to represent something specific. Somewhere along the line the words became unacceptable but that's a study of language from the historical or etymological perspective. The fact is that now certain words just don't work like they used to.

    It's kind of too bad because a lot of the words to express specific concepts better than they could be express otherwise. It makes sense to cry out, "Watch out for the dog shit!" as a warning. There is impact in that statement. But repeating the word over and over gets monotonous and silly.

    Saying to a partner, "Let's fuck" conveys a specific idea, but when the word starts becoming a adjective, adverb, noun, exclamation, or anything else liberally peppering ones language then we've taken the word from the intimacy of two people into crude repetitive use of language. And do kindergartners need to be saying "Fuck you!" to their teachers like my wife says that she's heard her students do? They hear it in movies, music, and probably at home. How do we teach them to use a language filter when bad examples are all around them.

    I'll stop there because I could keep going and cite many more examples. Hope I've expressed myself clearly in this hastily written response.

    Thanks for offering your side of this discussion.

    Lee

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  43. GREAT response, Lee!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  44. StMc--Thanks! It's always nice when someone acknowledges something I've taken the time to say.

    Lee

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  45. Hey Lee,

    I've never sworn... never, not even as a kid, and I have witnesses. Just never wanted to go that route so I haven't.

    I tend to think most people do it to be or look cool, and a few do it when they get mad. Thing is, I've asked people who swear a lot and tell me they can't control it & don't know when they're doing it if they do it at work. Almost always the response is "no", in which case I say "then you can control it, you just choose not to when you have nothing on the line."

    This is why I won't allow it on my blog in comments; if I'm not saying it, no one else gets to either.

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Lee