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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

    Okay, so you're now saying that racial slurs must be taboo, but the F-word should not be. I have former students who disagree with you on the racial slurs point, and they argued with me on that too. Many of my former students thought it was okay to address each other with a certain racial slur (which didn't apply to them or me). When used in that context, it was not a racial slur, they said. It was like saying "buddy" or "dude" or something.

    I didn't agree, and I told them no matter what the word might mean to them, the word has a history. To blurt that word out in public would make them appear to be racists.

    My point is, you probably agree that my students are wrong to think a racial slur is harmless, but I don't see how that's any more in denial than saying the F-word is harmless. Harmless to you, harmless to me (though I don't say it in front of the kids), sure, but for many the word invokes negative feelings. You can't fault people for being bothered by the F-word for the same reason you can't fault people for being bothered by racial slurs. The F-word means "sex." [Racial slur] means [race].

    What about the middle finger? You were born with that, everyone has one, and it's not a private part. So why can't you just flip everyone off? When someone asks what's wrong with you, you say in an innocent voice, "Wha-a-a-at... it's just a finger. I point with it because it's longer than my index finger; therefore, it's the better pointing finger. Hey, look, an airplane! Oh, I offended you? Well that's your fault for allowing a harmless finger to offend you."
  2. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

    Except for the fact that the word 'f*ck' doesn't have the same history as, say, the N-word. The latter was used as a term to refer to black people who racists saw as inferior, less than human, and so the word carries huge baggage (in a vacuum, that is – in specific social situations many people choose to use it and it doesn't carry that baggage, which I've got no place to scorn them for). The former, on the other hand, just means sex. Whether they are or not, people do have a very real reason to be wary of the connotations of the N-word, but to be wary of sex? To me that's just bullshit. Obviously, by this point it seems people are more wary of the actual word 'f*ck' as opposed to what it means, but to me that's also bullshit. I understand that people can't help if this harmless word invokes negative feelings in them, but I would still implore them to question why exactly that is.

    This doesn't really work as an analogy because flipping someone off is a specific gesture targeting a person, a gesture which basically means 'f*ck you'. Therefore, if someone flipped me off, I'd have every reason to be angry. Just like how if someone said to me 'f*ck you', I'd have every reason to be angry. If someone insults you, or says something to you in an aggressive manner, of course you're going to be offended! Why wouldn't you be? But if I'm talking to someone and they say 'that film is f*cking awesome' or 'f*ck me, it's cold', that's completely fine to me, and to be honest, it should be fine to everyone.
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Does it? That strikes me as a major assumption on your part. I mean, by that logic, the n* word just refers to the color black and to people living around the Niger River.

    I just looked it up. The first known usage of the f-word referring to sex? Somebody called "Roger F*ckethenavele," a nickname referring to somebody so stupid they . . . . well, "the navel." In 1310.

    ^I mean, dude, the word's always been about being graphic, mean and vulgar.
  4. What? Why? This is imposing your own personal set of morals on the entirety of the English speaking population. That seems...presumptuous. Look, man, just because you aren't offended by a certain word and think it's hunky-dory does not mean everyone does, nor should it mean everyone should. Seriously, the f-word has always and will always mean graphic and violent sex and often times implies that it be non- or barely-consensual.

    No matter how you slice it the reason why swearing is considered offensive is because society has attached an offensive meaning. Just because you don't find offense doesn't mean that the word does not offend. You're fighting against society, which brings me back to my original post. Why do words have meaning? Because society says they do. Terrific, terrified, they used to mean pretty similar things. Now, one means great they other means scared. So for right now the F-word is offensive, maybe in 15-100 years this will change, but it is not changing today.
    Russ, Heliotrope and Ireth like this.
  5. Russ

    Russ Istar

    I would implore people to think about why children in Africa are starving, or literacy rates are falling in some places, or how to stop female genital mutilation, or how to inspire people to better educational achievements, or how to help the mentally ill or many millions of other things before I asked them to dig into the swearing question.

    To me the use of swear words around people who are offended by them is simply a lack of respect for the people around you. It's not really much more complicated than that.

    To many people the word is not harmless, as you think it is. And one of the things I have learned in my life it that the world does not rotate around my sorry ass and some consideration for the sensitivities of others, even if I don't have the same sensitivities, is simply polite conduct.
    Garren Jacobsen and Heliotrope like this.
  6. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

    From an objective standpoint, absolutely not. Subjectively, I believe that they should. Obviously I can respect people's personal views and opinions, but I cannot always condone them.

    I would implore people to think about all that and more – none of those are mutually exclusive.

    I 100% agree. If I'm having a conversation with someone and they say that swearing makes them uncomfortable, of course I'll lay off it – as you say, that's simply polite conduct. It's the same for anything. If someone was for some strange reason made really uncomfortable by the word 'custard', I would be confused, but I would, so long as I was around them, refrain from using the word 'custard'.

    If I know what someone's sensitivities are, then I will be courteous and oblige them to the best of my ability, just like I would hope someone else would oblige my own sensitivities in conversation.
  7. WhiteCrow

    WhiteCrow Acolyte

    Let's clarify a few things yes?

    First the N-word was actually first applied to useless slobs - the bottom dregs of society - regardless of their skin tone. The actual meaning is, after all, about shiftless moral-less layabouts. The sort that any respectable person wouldn't want in their house.

    And if you go down welfare alley, you find just as many slack jawed whites lazing about as you do people with "colored" skin [I work at an addiction / rehab pharmacy - 90% of our clients are white & welfare (and have little obvious physical or mental problem)].

    Unfortunately, due to people crying racism and also rewriting of history, etc. [which does happen] you won't find the original definition anymore, or rarely, as Webster's has rewritten itself a few dozen times in the last decade or so.

    As for swearing in general, I agree with jackarandajam.

    Excessive swearing is indeed "lack of hygiene". It marks people lower on the totem pole. You won't hear someone of mid or even upper class [or higher educated people - professionals, etc.] swearing up a storm but you'll definitely hear the grease monkey at the garage who flunked high school cursing everyone but his mother.

    What does swearing achieve outside of indicating this lower rung? Not much. Is it meant to intimidate? Maybe. I always find people that cuss like a sailor oftentimes run with their tails tucked faster than the person who merely keeps quiet because all it is, is an act. Like someone puffing out their chest. Really if you can't "walk the walk, and talk the talk" keep thy yap shut because you look more like a fool than anything.

    Funny story on the intimidation - I worked at a mall plagued by drug dealers and druggies, the one time I tried swearing to act tough an actual patched member of the Hells Angels club that owned the building across the street from the mall [and whom was quite good in warning me who of his "clients" was going to be trouble] asked what the hell was wrong with me and sounding quite insulted told me that girls shouldn't swear.

    I don't swear unless extremely annoyed and even then I don't swear in English and I definitely don't go about flapping my arms {as if that'll get me airborne}, yelling and screaming, and acting like a general twit --- as many of my swear-happy neighbors do.

    Also like jackarandajam - if swearing takes up a lot of your vocabulary try working on it. People sound very intelligent swearing ... not.
  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Thanks for your post white crow!

    I just want to clarify the eptymology of the n- word, since I'm a sucker for the origins of words (see my earlier post lol).

    The n- word is the English variation of the Spanish "negro" and the French "negre" both meaning "black". It was a word simply used for anything black, and was applied to people of darker skin tones all around the world including the Polynesians an the native Indians (during the colonization of India).
  9. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    Wasn't niggardly the original term used before the version of the "n word" we have now?
  10. I always thought that the two terms evolved separately.
  11. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

    Interesting note,

    In Brazil it's used as an affectionate term.

    Eu te amo meu nega.


    Oi meu neginha.

    Sometimes my wife calls me negão, which means big n*^&$*, but is actually translated as something like, my lovely hunk. Even though I'm Caucasian.

    Mostly she just calls me gatão, which is like saying I'm a studly Tomcat.

    I just call her Amor.
    Jackarandajam likes this.

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