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What exactly is wrong with swearing?

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

  1. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    My wife did a better job with the don't-say-stupid rule than I did. Yeah, I agree it's not so much no-swearing as it is no-rudeness (that we teach/model to our little ones).
     
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  2. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    This begs the question, though, why should someone control their language in this way and avoid swearing? This goes back to the original question: what exactly is wrong with swearing?

    This I can definitely agree with. Rudeness is never good. But I find it strange that people too often associate swearing with rudeness, when is about as stupid as associating adjectives with rudeness.
     
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I guess the difference is the tone that is used, or what is implied…

    So, if my teenager was to tell me to "F*ck off!"

    vs.

    "Mom, I disagree with you about this. Can we talk about it, please? And maybe we can come to an agreement?"

    In our house we try to model respect, and speaking to each other with respect is a big part of that. The later is how our kids hear us talk to each other… They would NEVER hear the former from us, and we would never accept the former from them.

    But this goes back to when they were infants. Instead of "ta-ta" like I see some older people do, we simply just said "please" when they wanted us to hand us something.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2015
  4. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    I feel as thought you're assuming that swearing equals aggression, or that swearing equals rudeness. Rudeness should never be tolerated, and certainly all parents should strive to teach their kids common courtesy. But what does swearing have to do with any of that?
     
  5. I honestly don't understand this argument. It seems to presuppose that only swearing has an arbitrary meaning associated with it. Thing is every word's meaning is arbitrary. There is no natural meaning to any word. Humans give each word meaning. The reason why swearing is considered taboo is because society says so. That is literally the only reason. We may as well just start asking why some words are considered good words. Why does the word awesome mean something good? What about terrific? That has the same basic root as terrified.
     
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  6. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    All words carry meanings and connotations. Yes, it is society that says so. You can't expect to change the meaning or connotation of a word, phrase or idiom because you disagree with it. Language naturally evolves because of society.

    I was telling a friend about how, while in Rome, I saved a bus full of teenagers from a gun-toting Neo Nazi by using the F-word in front of a nun. This is a true story. The kids were pointing and laughing at the Neo Nazis from the upper deck, and one boarded. I was a 21-year-old "chaperone" and when a gun-toting nut boarded our bus because the naive private school kids didn't realize how dangerous the situation was, I stood up and intended to say, "Guys, don't piss them off." When I got to the word "don't," I realized that I was about to say "piss" in front of not one, but two nuns. They were sitting next to me. Even if we're all gonna die, I can't talk like that. I didn't pause, but kept the sentence going with whatever happened to roll off the tongue. It came out as, "Guys, don't f*** with them." The St.B's students were shocked that I swore in front of the nuns. They all sat down and shut up. I looked at the nuns and the one closest to me gave a nod of approval.

    I'm not saying the F-word is morally wrong. I am saying it's powerful. You can like it, love it or hate it, but you can't deny it, and you're a fool to underestimate it. Me? I respect the F-word and wield its power like a f***ing bastard sword.
     
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  7. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    No, perhaps I wasn't quite as clear as I would have liked. I tried to say that what matters is the tone that is used or what is implied. So my two examples are one instance, but wielding it like you did is another instance all together where it was effective and not particularly rude. I think "shut the f up" is different then "go f yourself"... They carry different weights. Like any words, they have weights when used in certain context...

    And perhaps I'm just old fashioned, and to me words have value (even if socially placed). A rose, if called a skunk cabbage, just wouldn't smell as sweet ;)

    So the f word, when used in appropriate context, is the best possible word, and I do use it often.

    But like terrific, or terrible, it is not right in every situation...
     
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    My wife is from Connecticut, and she considers hell, damn, sucks and crap to be swear words. She was grimacing at my use of these words even when we were by ourselves, before we even had children.

    We teach our children that there are curse words, which we should never use, and "bully words," which they should never use until they understand how to use them carefully.

    Whatever people say, cursing is not really a religious thing. There's even some cursing in the Bible, old Hebrew and Greek words that get translated into sanitized English.

    Curse words also change over time. For instance, whatever the FCC thinks, I would argue that f*g is a lot more offensive to people than some of the words forbidden on television.

    The simple fact of the matter is, words matter. We avoid words all the time because people find them weak. Why shouldn't we avoid a few that people find too strong?
     
  9. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Oh great... and here I was telling my story about how I thwarted the Nazis in Rome with the F-bomb, using the F-word (for accuracy), and the guy I was telling is from Connecticut. Now don't I feel like a Masshole-without-an-M.
     
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  10. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    I think it dates back to the time period of Bourgeois society to the first world war. During this time the high and middle class people were continually striving to supress their supposed "base instincts". Many thing became taboo during this time. Sex and profanity for example. This time period is what caused Freud to develop his theories as a counter to society and if you read his work then i think you'll understand how suppresive his time must have been.
     
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  11. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

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    But what if they simply don't CHOOSE to control their language? What if they see no point in sparing the masses from a little offense? We supress enough of our nature already. xD Why waste the time and effort to state something beautifully and creatively when the audience is unlikely to understand it regardless? Don't get me wrong, I love a roundabout way of telling people they're stupid as much as the next person, but it's usually more efficient to keep things short and to the point.
     
  12. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    If they don't choose to control their language but are mentally fully capable of doing so then i just think that they are lacking in empathy, rebelious for no good reason (Attention seekers) or they lack understanding/respect of social rules. Which is similar to lacking empathy, but not quite the same.
     
  13. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    But what if you understand the social rules, but just think they're shit? It's not about being rebellious for rebelliousness' sake, that requires an acknowledgement of the order being rebelled against. In the case of people who enthusiastically curse, I feel as if it's more about simply ignoring stupid rules that serve no purpose.

    Every rightly taboo word has a very understandable reason for it to be so (racial slurs, for example). However, there is no physical reason for someone to take offence at the word 'f*ck'. As a verb and a noun, it means sex. Unless someone somehow finds sex offensive (in which case, I would suggest therapy), there's no reason to be afraid of the word 'f*ck'.
     
  14. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Oh yes i agree that words like f*ck have largely lost their meaning and while i do not condone using these words oftenly or in inappropriate situations (like a funeral) i do not consider them to be on the same level as what i described before.

    In the Netherlands it has become very standard to curse with disease for whatever reason. This i just consider unacceptable for the exact reasons that is stated. If someone wishes cancer upon someone else than i feel justified to think of them as having a weak will or being socially incapable.
     
  15. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    Why not a funeral, though? What counts as an inappropriate situation to use a perfectly harmless word?

    This I can understand. Cancer carries various harmful connotations (trivialising the suffering of cancer-patients, over-visceralising a verbal attack, etc.). Unless you're amongst a group of friends who all know you don't mean it, throwing around visceral attacks is definitely a no-no.
     
  16. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    For the same reason you don't talk about sex or drugs at a funeral. Ok things to do in my book, but there are things you just don't do at these kind of things. Call it convention if you want. I call it being an adult and behaving like one.

    Also i never said that the word "f*ck" is harmless. I said that it is not on the same level as wishing someone to have cancer. The simple thing that this word is used to harm someone makes it harmful. The intention behind a word is important and if a certain intention is so often coupled with a certain word then it might as well be synonymous with the word.
     
  17. Metanoiac

    Metanoiac Dreamer

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    I think in some circumstances the purpose of the ritual is to single-focus intent. Like at a funeral, the intent is to honor or end association with the dead person, and the participants' focus is supposed to be on accomplishing that. If someone were to begin speaking about sex or cursing, that would break the single-focus of the group, and therefore be "wrong".
     
  18. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    Fair enough. In verb or noun form, 'f*ck' may well be inappropriate at a funeral (though of course this depends on the overall atmosphere of the event). But what about in adjective or adverb form ('f*cking'), which by this point has no sexual connotations?

    See, this probably comes down to personal experience, but in south London, where I come from, swearing is so common that the word 'f*ck' doesn't have the harmful connotations you're talking about. It's just punctuation, used to add emphasis to a statement.

    What we've established is that the word 'f*ck' is harmful to some people, because those people believe it is harmful, while technically, going by its definition, they have no logical reason to believe it's harmful – they just do.

    If I may say, it's all pretty f*cking silly.
     
  19. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    But you are wrong in that. There is logic behind why we find it harmful and that is the same reason why you do not find it harmful. The environments we have grown up in determine what is considered good and bad. Swearing or not swearing is like a ritual. There are specific circumstances to be met. And i believe rituals are important, because they are what make humans feel connected in society. Sure this one thing might seem silly to you, but you are acclimated to this word. By saying that condemning the usage of swearing you are basically making the (probably not conscious) point that your culture is better than mine. Or that your background is more logical, which i disagree with because of the many afore mentioned reasons
     
  20. Jackarandajam

    Jackarandajam Troubadour

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    To me, swearing is like dressing like a slob, or not practicing proper hygene (there were times in history when people didn't brush their teeth and straight men wore high heels... The past is dead. I'm talking about the present).
    Your close friends or family will forgive you for morning breath or a stained t-shirt (or the occasional wirty dord), but if you walk around town with crap in your teeth, wearing a beer-stained t-top and jeggings (or spouting profanity), people are going to act toward you in a certain, understandable, leery fashion.

    Lack of hygiene or improper dress (or pervasive language) are decisions that an individual makes, and are entirely their prerogative.
    They are considered, though, by most SOCIETY, to be slovenly, socially improper, rude, unprofessional, and indicative of laziness and a general lack of care or empathy.
    This depends on the society, of course; cursing during a speech is not appreciated at a business development conference, whereas, at a frat house graduation ceremony, it may be less frowned upon.
    In some friend circles, to refrain from cursing is strange. In others, the word crap draws a titter and a gasp.


    blasphemous language is, of course, frowned upon by followers of the diety or religion that it blasphemes.
    With that exception, I would argue that whether or not profanity (or which profanity) is offensive depends entirely on who is around you.

    Culturally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being offended by language.
    Therefore, because children aren't the best judge when it comes to "what to say around who," the polite thing to do is teach them not to curse.
    Also, it teaches children that if something is offensive, and there is no moral imperative to uphold your freedom as an individual on the subject, it shows a strength of character to refrain from being offensive.

    I agree that if profanity is the glue that holds your entire vocabulary together, you should work on your ability to verbalize yourself in a manner that doesn't REQUIRE it, even if you choose to use it anyway.

    Sometimes, when someone says something stupid or hurtful, the profanity trained brain looking for the quickest rebuttal will throw out a quick "well F*** your couch!" or the like, instead of actually trying to respond in a way that explains to the person (and those listening) WHY what they said is unreasonable. Whereas a thoughtful question or rebuttal could do someone in range of the debate some good, the only person profanity actually helps during an argument is you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2015
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