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I Swear I Don’t Swear

· Thoughts

Haha… That’s a lie. I like swearing because sometimes nothing gets a point across like a really good cuss. Sometimes when I stub my toe it hurts less when I swear (and yes there have been studiesthat show this to be true)

I have always been super-curious about people’s reaction to swearing. Over the years, various people have attributed my swearing to the fact that:

  • I work in the trades (there may be some merit to this one! But I swore long before that)

  • I am a single mother (this one stumped me!)

  • I am uneducated (not true – I have a Criminology Diploma, a BA with a double minor in Psychology and Sociology AND I have a certificate from Oxford to teach English as a second language)

  • I had been on welfare (not sure that is an indicator)

  • I am ignorant (no, just well versed in the use of “foul” language)

I often wonder why a person would complain about “bad” language. Is this really the most pressing thing in their life and a legitimate focus for their energy? One might think that a person’s life must be pretty stress-free if they have time to be concerned about anot

her’s use of language. Or perhaps their life is so out of control that this is the only outlet they have. Or maybe the answer is somewhere in between.

I really don’t give a rat’s ass about another person’s language unless they are being cruel. I swear and I want to be able to use the words I feel are suitable to my sentence without judgement, so I don’t understand why someone wants to control mine.

Clearly those wanting to censure my swearing have never listened to the various versions of the song, Hallelujah, where one of verses is this one (which in my opinion totally clears things up):

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken hallelujah

Language is beautiful and rough and obnoxious and foul, and that is what gives it its amazing texture and diversity. I mean Dr. Seuss managed to write the children’s book Green Eggs and Ham only using 50 words, but for us mere mortals we need more to get our point across!

Who got to decide that love was a great word and that fuck was a bad word? And who are we that we decided to listen to that arbitrary decision?

This article claims that those who swear may actually be smarter than you think! We often get accused of having a limited vocabulary, but this article indicates that perhaps we have more linguistic knowledge than our non-swearing counterparts.

Of course context is everything and like everything else, I like to have conversations about it. I remember one day my sister came storming into my condo with my 3 year old son. She stood there with great indignation and said, “Do you know what your son just said?” My reply “How could I know that? But, I bet you are going to tell me.” Without missing a beat she filled me in, “He said shit.” I replied “Why did he say shit?” She said because he stepped in duck shit and told me “I stepped in duck shit.”” This seemed like a perfectly proper use of the word shit. I had a hard time getting mad at him for that. I said to my sister “Well, it was duck shit right?” she nodded “So he just called it what it was. He didn’t’ call you a shit did he?” she shook her head no “Well then, no problem.” The irony is my sister takes swearing to a whole new level so the humour of her being upset with him didn’t escape me.

Over the years my son and I have had many conversations about swearing. I have always allowed him to pick his words as he sees fit with the caveat that he is aware of the consequences. His Nana may cuff him in the head, or his teachers may toss him out of class, or worse, coaches may kick him off the team. Like anything else in life there are pros and cons to what we do and what we try to impose on other people. If you are doing it with language, perhaps you are doing it with other things?

Just something to think about. What is your relationship with swearing and with the people who don’t like it?

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