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What exactly is wrong with swearing?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Gryphos, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

    So I swear all the time. Literally all the time. I don't think I ever go more than five sentences without some kind of swear word thrown in somewhere. I never really considered the supposed morality of such a habit, until recently, when I asked myself: What exactly is wrong with swearing?

    And after some thought I realised, I have absolutely no clue. Like, seriously, none. To me the F word, the S word, the C word, etc. are all fairly harmless. At least, no more harmful than any other word. And yet western society seems to group these otherwise unrelated words together in a box labelled 'bad'. It's actually quite remarkable.

    Perhaps it's the leftovers of a predominantly christian mindset which still lingers in our culture, but if so, then that doesn't make it any less stupid.

    Hell, I'd even swear around kids. Why not? Shit is just another word for poo, and we're allowed to say that around kids. F*ck has sexual connotations, but I also firmly believe that sex shouldn't be dodged around either when children are concerned.

    I dunno, it's just strange to me. Maybe someone can enlighten me on what exactly is morally reprehensible about swearing.
  2. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    I would never f***ing swear in front of my kids, or they'd sound like a bunch of little sh**s and all those a**holes at the supermarket would look at me like I'm more of a d***head than a dad.

    Western/religion doesn't have a lot to do with it. I lived in Hong Kong, and there were words you weren't supposed to say. It does beg the question, why invent words if you're not supposed to use them? In that respect, I see what you're getting at. But even though I used the F-word expertly at the age of 7, I wouldn't want my 7-year-old to talk like that. Having taught for 10 years (and I hope that number never goes to 11), I can tell you that the kids who don't see a problem with dropping F-bombs in the classroom also don't care about several other aspects in life.

    As a guy, the F-word is just a word. As a parent, not using it in front of my kids is modeling the kind of self-control I want them to have, not just in terms of word choice, but also in manners, self-respect, not drawing negative attention, etc.
  3. Nagash

    Nagash Sage

    I don't know what western country you live in, but as far as my own is concerned, we swear all the time as well, and in many different ways. I'm given to understand that only a fragment of the socio-economic spectrum of the population would shy away from using swear words in common life situations. Swearing has been trivialized in such a fashion, that most of the time, no one actually uses them with their original meaning in mind.

    So yeah... I don't see swearing as being reprehensible at all, and few people in my surroundings would correct me about this, save from my grandparents perhaps.
  4. Stephyn Blackwood

    Stephyn Blackwood Minstrel

    I don't know... Maybe it's just my upbringing, or where I grew up (Glasgow, Scotland, notorious for it's language) but swearing has never really offended me. And I do use it quite regularly. Although, I just feel that some words should be used in certain situations. swearing may not be appropriate around children, but nor is it appropriate in a serious, professional conversation. Like with your doctor or something.

    But as a comedy implement? I cannot possibly tell a joke or a story without dropping the F word. It just comes naturally to me. By the time I hit age 10, my dad was doing it around the house to express himself. And once I hit 16, I used it just as freely as he did. It just felt natural.

    But honestly, I don't see what's wrong with swearing. I use it quite a lot in my writing, and I've had a couple of characters who've been unable to speak a line without dropping some sort of swear.
  5. Tom

    Tom Istar

    I have no f*cking problem with swearing. After all, I am a liberal millennial studying in the arts field, which is well-known for being "full of liberalism". If my life were a movie, most of the dialogue would have to be censored to keep it in the PG-13 rating bracket.

    I am totally comfortable with dropping the F-bomb. With saying sh*t. I am not comfortable, however, with using the word c***. Because of where I'm coming from, I object to that word, as it's usually used on women. I don't like that.

    Though I don't object to (most) swearing, I do know people who do--most of my family. They object to it on religious grounds, which makes sense. I mean, the New Testament does have several verses about keeping your speech pure. I try to put a filter on it when I'm around them, mostly out of self-preservation rather than anything else. (My paternal grandmother might just murder me if she could hear some of the things I've said.)

    Outside of the realm of religion, I honestly have no idea why some words are so offensive. Most of them are just synonyms for words we use without qualms. What's the point?
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

    I used to have a bad foul language habit. Picked it up in the military. Took me a long time to divest myself of it effectively.

    Anyways, on the larger point, the reason that swearing is often considered bad is because it violates certain community norms.

    Now community norms can be good, bad or indifferent, but there are social consequences for violating them. You get to chose whether or not you want to suffer those consequences when you act.

    There are lots of community norms that don't have a rational, scientific or other specific basis, but there is an argument that they do fulfill a purpose.

    It also depends on how you value the feelings or sensibilities of the people around you. That, once again, is a personal decision you have to make.
    kennyc likes this.
  7. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    I personally try to avoid swearing. I don't have a perfect record in that regard, but generally I don't like it. There are a few reasons for that. It's partly because of my religion and how I was raised, but also because- quite frankly- I think it's beneath me. It sounds coarse and unpleasant, and I don't think it really adds anything of value to conversation nine times out of ten. I tolerate it from my friends, though they know I don't care for it and try to reign it in when I'm around. However, if I meet you and you open with a bunch of swear words right off the bat, I will immediately form a very low opinion of your intelligence and decide I want nothing to do with you. I tend to write people off pretty quickly, which can be a flaw or an asset depending on the situation.
  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Legendary Sidekick: I know why they invent words but then don't let us use them:) If you want a history lesson….

    So, before 1066 in England the saxons had their own language. It was sort of a combo of germanic and a bunch of other pagan languages. When William the Conquerer came over from France he brought French nobility with him. The french spoke, french, obviously. The saxon language was considered 'slave' or 'servant' language, and was the lowly, dirty, immoral language.


    were saxon words. To the saxons they were totally normal, every day words. To the french nobility they were disgusting, low, servant words, and so were forbidden at court…. where we get the word' courtesy' from… so avoiding those words, even today, is just considered 'courtesy'…. Isn't that crazy!

    Also, this is why the livestock version of some words are english, but the 'cooked/prepared' version is french:

    Cow vs. Beef (boef)

    or Deer vs. venison

    etc. The saxons were farming the animals, but the french nobility were eating them.
  9. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    Swearing is an art form. It can be delightful or maddening, depending on who is using it.
  10. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    I don't have any problems with people swearing. But I think there's a time and place for it.

    Whether we like it or not, certain words carry baggage beyond their literal meaning, so using them at an inappropriate time can be rude.

    I think swearing or not, is about respect and being self aware. If I'm at a quiet restaurant and want to enjoy a nice meal with a friend, I don't want to sit next to loud mouths, worse yet loud mouths that are constantly dropping F-bombs etc.

    But like I said, it's about time and place. I don't have kids, but if I did, I wouldn't have a problem with them swearing as long as it was the right time and place for it. IMHO, instead of making swearing taboo, teach them when they can and cannot do it is probably a more valuable life tool.
    kennyc and Heliotrope like this.
  11. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Troubadour

    I've heard somewhere before that swearing is just a poor attempt at adding shock value to their speech by those who are limited in their lexicon.

    I do swear, and I consider my lexicon to be fairly well-developed, but I think this statement does have some level of truth to it.
    kennyc likes this.
  12. Tom

    Tom Istar

    I have an extensive vocabulary. One of the things I did when I was bored as a kid was choose a random dictionary page and read all the entries on it. This sounds like a terrible idea to current me, but hey--when you're a kid with ADD, you'll do anything to keep from getting bored.

    Anyway, I use a huge variety of words in my everyday speech. But I reserve swear words for when normal words don't quite pack the same punch.

    Only expletives sound right to yell when you've stubbed your toe.
  13. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    I swear when i'm angry, when I'm happy, or when I'm comfortable. I know that might sound like all the time, but there are a few times that I don't swear as a rule. At work, with clients, with people I don't know well enough, or with someone else's kids. If I went to church, I wound's swear there, either.

    I guess the worst thing I "accidentally' say is shit, in the place of "stuff". That one I do kinda often on accident. But other than that, I talk like a sailor in my home and with my friends I know well, but if it isn't an appropriate time or place, i have no problems naturally omitting my favorite words from my dialogue. :)

    I think in writing, it carries a bigger impact than in real life, so I swear sparingly on the page.
    MineOwnKing likes this.
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I think this belongs to General Patton: No man can call himself a gentleman unless he can swear for three minutes without repeating himself.

    But I would distinguish between swearing and profanity. The latter is using words that are considered taboo and/or disgusting by the dominant culture. Those words are used, or were originally intended, to shock, which degrades neatly into being used for emphasis. Those who overuse such words degrade them further into being used mainly as punctuation.

    Swearing has a different origin. To swear means to take an oath, with overtones of civic responsibility if not of divine authority. To swear when one is not intending to keep one's word, to swear trivially, is therefore at the very least irresponsible, maybe offensive, and at worst a form of sin.

    As with so much else in modern life, what's proper or improper today depends almost entirely on the specific cultural milieu--in whose house you are. Which is one thing that makes the Internet such a socially treacherous place. You never know in whose house you are. On the modern Internet, everyone knows you're a dog, but nobody agrees on what kind of dog you are. (reference to a classic cartoon)
    J. S. Elliot likes this.
  15. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

    F*ck that!
  16. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

    I see absolutely no problem with it. I don't care what words the French found offensive 400 years ago, I couldn't care any less what is considered offensive now. I have no regard whatsoever for any other social conventions or expectations either. As long as they have a well-developed vocabulary otherwise, as overusing any word is irritating, I see no reason why a 4 year old can't say "I'm tired of this ****ing shit" if they damn well are. Then again, I grew up in a family where we call each other bitches and assholes as a compliment. My only exception to the rule is when following a social convention is more directly beneficial to me or a loved one than not doing so. I feel no shame whatsoever unless I fail in my goals.
  17. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Generally i consider cursing indicative of a weak will. If someone can't even control their language, how can i expect them to control more important things? If someone can't even refrain from using a few words all the time then how can they prevent themselves from acting on other impulses?

    Besides that i think it means the person in question is uncreative. Why use the same couple of words to insult if you can do the same thing in much more beautiful and creative ways.
  18. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    Today, I got a kick out of my three-year-old when she yelled "What's your plan, Dude?" as YouTube paused a Mickey Shorts strip to load, and before dinner: "You have to kill the fly or it will eat all the Thanksgiving dinner!" If she yelled WTF at the TV or "Swat the little shit, Daddy," I wouldn't be laughing. I'd be worried. Did she hear that word come out of my mouth? Will she talk like that at preschool?
  19. [video=youtube_share;8ZP3AXgdkq0]https://youtu.be/8ZP3AXgdkq0[/video]

    As the episode from which this clip comes from above indicates it could be you bald, fat, yellow neighbor that teaches them to swear.
  20. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    My preschooler always says "What the pow-pow?" instead of "What the he**." It cracks me up so much.

    And at our house we don't say "stupid" because I think it is rude, so if he is really mad he will say "Well, this is a word I shouldn't be saying!"
    Legendary Sidekick and Nimue like this.

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