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Do you think profanity has become too commonplace?

Asked at Borders, 700 N.H. on March 29, 2006

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Photo of William J. Harris

“No. I think that it is certainly more prevalent in art now than when I was growing up, but I don’t think people have become more profane. I think artists and the media are reflecting it more.”

Photo of Mary Johnson

“Absolutely. You hear it all the time on television and you can’t watch a movie without it. I think it’s way overused. People should be able to express themselves without being profane.”

Photo of Jeff Crick

“No. I think it has become less stigmatized in society. I think people are just becoming more open to it.”

Photo of Peris Wanjiku

“Yes and no. I don’t hear it very much in an academic setting, but I do if I go out for a drink. I think it’s kind of a cop-out to use curse words instead of fully explaining things. I think people do it because it takes less time and they get more of a reaction.”

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Comments

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

Yes I do. But sometimes, those words are the ones that work...

Good morning! Ready for the big storm tomorrow?

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

P.S. Cellach - where I used to be at KU was fine, luckily, and nothing at all to my home. Thank for asking and welcome back!

enochville 9 years, 1 month ago

At the heart of the profanity question is the issue of respect for others versus sensitivity in taking offense. Some people feel that individuals should be free to express themselves however they want and those who are "hurt" by their expressions are unrealistically sensitive or, in other words, their claims of harm are not reasonably legitimate.

Others feel that people are free to express themselves up to the point that they unnecessarily offend those around them. They would liken using profane language to purposely stepping on their or their children's toes.

I would not support a law to limit profanity in speech on the streets, but I do support citizens or groups encouraging their fellow citizens to try a little harder not to offend strangers around them.

We cannot completely avoid giving offense to someone over something. But, using profanity is unnecessary. Although people do not have to respect others, I feel that it is entirely appropriate to attempt to pass on the value of respecting others to those who are not being courteous to their neighbors.

classclown 9 years, 1 month ago

I've always felt that the younger generations have sort of fascination with curse words. For instance us older folks would say the word F*** to add emphasis to what we are saying, while the younger ones say it just to hear themselves say it.

Jayhawk226 9 years, 1 month ago

What the (&#&%$&*@^%! is that supposed to mean?!!?

jonas 9 years, 1 month ago

What timeframe are we talking about? Profanity was common when I was growing up, 2 decades ago.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

I think Peris got close enough -- I've had several people tell me they use such words because they have more impact and because they communicate more emotion than "normal" words. The problem, as noted by omb, is that when people use them in every other sentence, they eventually cease to have that sort of impact, because they start to become "normal." There are words that barely catch my attention anymore.

So yes, by that measure, it is too commonplace, because a lot of it has less impact.

In a related comment, I wonder if anyone used profanity at the OTS interrogator.

LawrenceKSisgreat 9 years, 1 month ago

Coincident or not?

Story on CNN.com today 03-29-2006.

"U.S. Who gives a @#$% about profanity? Poll says 75% of women and 60% of men don't like swearwords "

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/03/28/profanity.ap/index.html

BrianR 9 years, 1 month ago

I could never complete a home plumbing project without profanity. It stops leaks.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Harley, that's sort of a narrow question. You'd probably have much the same answer if you asked, "How would George Carlin respond to anything?"

mightyquin 9 years, 1 month ago

Profanity is a substitute for a good vocabulary. It is also a lazy way for people to express themselves. My DI in the corps could rip a guy to shreads and make him feel lower than a snakes belly all whithout uttering a single swear word. At the time I thought he was a mean "S.O.B." but looking back on it I really admired his command of the english language. I wish I was half as good as he was.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Interestingly, he has expanded it over time.

Also, Carlin seems to be built essentially on comedy centered around that list. Honestly, I'm not sure if I can consider that comedy. It's one thing to use certain words for impact or emphasis, and another thing entirely to use the worst words you can find simply to make a fuss.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Now, wait, if bob's life is complete ... what's next?

badger 9 years, 1 month ago

sgt - His point is that those words have been officially declared 'naughty' for what essentially amount to arbitrary reasons. It's social statement about how our culture responds to shock in a funny way more than it is just plain funny.

I think that what's lacking now is an understanding of situationally appropriate profanity. Fifteen years ago, if you were talking to your date's mom, or your teacher, or your boss, profanity wasn't appropriate, but among friends it was the norm.

Currently, in some misguided notion of free speech, people are shoehorning the most severe profanity they can find into everyday language and watering down its real effect. I use mild epithets (hell, etc) fairly commonly among friends and family, but the stronger ones I reserve for the expression of strong and significant emotion or conversations with a very few people I know who simply don't believe in 'bad' words. If you hear blue language out of me, and you're not a very close friend, something major is going on. I am hurt, angry, or very frightened, and using language to convey that.

Profanity itself isn't necessarily the sign of a weak or lazy mind. However, the inability to make yourself clearly understood on a daily basis without it is. When I read authors, poets, or playwrights with a lot of profanity, I try clearing it away and seeing if their ideas still have that level of emphasis, if what they're actually saying has that 'punch' without the profanity. If not, I move on. It's the same for artists who use shock tactics for art. If the notion of covering a religious icon in poo loses its meaning once you get over the notion of sacrelige, then it's not very effective art. If there's no more depth to it than "OMG I'm being 'naughty' and pushing boundaries for the sake of their existence and all my substance is based around the fact that I'm 'naughty'!" then I'll probably pass right on by.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

A cult of pleather and samauri swords? That would certainly catch on.

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

Gootsie, I didn't know you had been freed :) congrats!!

canyon_wren 9 years, 1 month ago

I always liked W.C. Fields' use of GODfrey DANiel!

canyon_wren 9 years, 1 month ago

And, yes, I think it has become too commonplace, but maybe the fact that it has will make it ultimately lose its appeal--people get tired of "fads" so easily.

My dad used mild profanity pretty regularly; once in a while when my mother was really upset with us she would include a "damn" which, though it shocked us a little, usually made us laugh, which didn't help matters any!

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Canyon, the problem with that is simply that there will always be words deemed unacceptable, and there will always be people to say them, justifiably or unjustifiably.

By the way, badger, I wholeheartedly agree that profanity by itself does not reflect on a person's intellectual ability. That is one blanket assertion (profanity=lack of intelligence) I hate.

That said, in reading your last paragraph, I'm wondering ... where does Carlin fit in there? (That's a serious question.)

kansas_prairieland 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey, what's all this talk I hear about some really nasty weather heading our way tomorrow??!!

How bad is it supposed to be? Anybody know?

craigers 9 years, 1 month ago

Yes, I think profanity is used way too much. But then again I wonder how we came to determine one word was worse than another. Was it because it made poop or sex sound more vulgar? I really don't know but I just don't like hearing other people curse in general so I would say that it is used to much if used at all. Oh well.

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

Aye, I do! Working on campus I quite often have to stifle the urge to laugh out loud at some of the profanity I hear. Mind you, many of these kids have not even mastered the English language and their profane insertions are down right comical. Example, attractive young female (until she started talking :) inserting F as she complained about ordering a hotdog!!! "All I wanted was a hot F*** dog" -- just hearing that from a young woman seeking a higher education is confusing, you don't know whether to laugh or cry.

omb's life will never be complete until he tours the country and meets all of his OTS groupies :):)

Liberty 9 years, 1 month ago

If you watch TV, you could answer yes. Hollywood tries to glamorize the use of profane words by making it look like you are more important and command more power and respect by using profanity. It is really a reflection on the person's character and integrity. It is a personal flaw in an individual to use profanity, and shows a lack of command of the English language and use of good vocabulary. Much of it comes from peer relationships... (Trying to impress another person with your ability to be obnoxious and perverse).

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

I don't know about badger, but I was thinking more of something like mightyquin's 7:21 comment.

Whoa. I completely forgot to check the score of the game. It was on cable, and I don't have cable, and I got lost in another task, and I forgot about the game until just now. It may be the Not In Tournament tournament, but I'm happy to see the guys winning. It still means something -- especially since Michigan is the last Big Ten team still playing (by a wide margin).

I'd like to see the basketball program get back to winning and making the tournament (like they did in the late 80s) so they can get out from under the shadow of the football team a little bit.

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

Cellach, did you get any storm damage? We drove campus right after it happened and I almost cried several times looking at trees and debris everywhere.

Maybe they should have had the Docking Family Limb Chopper & Mulch building instead.

bankboy119 9 years, 1 month ago

Serious question, some one once told me that F is actually an acronym coming from Britain. Fornication Under Consent of the King. I threw the BS card down but anyone know for sure?

avhjmlk 9 years, 1 month ago

My favorite is Hugh Grant's line from "Four Weddings and a Funeral.":

"F! Fity f! F-a-doodle-do!"

Nobody can swear quite like the British.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 1 month ago

okay, black_monolith, would you care to elaborate, or is that the ultimate in understatement?

Sandra Willis 9 years, 1 month ago

This is both funny and kind of sad ... Why would any adult choose to swear as though it were normal to do so? Laziness, or pain are the only things that come to my mind.

I always swear when I hurt myself; don't if kids are around; then apologize if any adults have heard me.

When I see my kitties hurt themselves, I wonder if they are cursing ...

avhjmlk 9 years, 1 month ago

Every time our oldest cat knocks something off the bathroom counter on purpose, I know he is saying in his head: "F*** you guys. I win."

I told my husband that the cat is just prepping us for when our precocious toddler is suddenly a teenage girl...

bearded_gnome 9 years, 1 month ago

favorite british swearing: "bloody hell" in proper accent, and, "mine arse on a bandbox" whatever the he|| a bandbox is!


yes way too much profanity, including my own...however, as marion noted, it can be very useful in times of intense personal agony to communicate the depth of it in succinct phrase...

super_b 9 years, 1 month ago

You can't forget bollucks when you make a list of British swear words.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Me, I blame it all on Friends University.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 1 month ago

yes, friends Univ of central kansas...pretty darned funny, along with pendleton middle school...the girls refused to wear the sweaters with their logo on it! wonder why.

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

oh yeah. I wonder if their campus buildings are made of straw? That could be where the phrase originated.

badger 9 years, 1 month ago

sgtwolverine said: "By the way, badger, I wholeheartedly agree that profanity by itself does not reflect on a person's intellectual ability. That is one blanket assertion (profanity=lack of intelligence) I hate.

That said, in reading your last paragraph, I'm wondering ... where does Carlin fit in there? (That's a serious question.)"

Well, obviously, he can't do the 'Seven Dirty Words' routine without profanity, because the words themselves are the subject. However, if the expressive profanity in the rest of what he's saying is removed, just leaving those words in as the subjects of the sentences, it's still pretty funny and a good observation about language, standards, censorship, and communication.

A lot of Carlin's older work is funny without the profanity, so I am not bothered by his use of it. His points and his humour work with or without it; he just chooses to use it. A lot of the really good comedians who use profanity are funny with or without it, so I consider their decision to use it more of an aesthetic one than an inability to work without it.

However, having heard Howard Stern and read some of his autobiography (I just gave up and put it down), that man has nothing to say and no useful observations to make beyond, "Look how obscene I can be! Hee hee! Let's all say poo poo and giggle like five-year-olds!" If you take away the profanity and the obscenity, he's essentially mute.

linux_chick 9 years, 1 month ago

I tend to lean towards being more concerned about what people do (vs. word choice).

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

omb, we all look like movie stars!!! Several could even play human roles :):)

bearded_gnome 9 years, 1 month ago

Larrygreat: that's so funny! thanks for the link! you know, those Ausies...they're alwyas causing the brits trouble!
"hey bruce" "what bruce" ...monty python skit...

avhjmlk 9 years, 1 month ago

At KU, Stepehson Hall (one of the Scholarship Halls) has intramural team t-shirts with this on the front:

Stephenson Hall Intramural Team

They're quite proud.

linux_chick 9 years, 1 month ago

I'm kind of irritated when I hear a self-righteous rant about how life was so much better when "people had morals" in the 50s and 60s.

Who cares if people say sh** now when they used to say "jeepers"?

My parents remember public lynchings in the streets. A time where a black man in his 50s was referred to as "boy" and where my parents received death threats for even being married (as late as the 80s).

Great times... It sounded perfect and I'm sorry I missed out. It's such a shame that our immoral youth today say fu** more often than their parents did. Let's go back to the good old days...

BrianR 9 years, 1 month ago

I always liked the First United Church of Kansas.

Try Googling this one: gxddbov, it's a fave of mine.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Thanks, badger. I appreciate your points.

One other question does spring to mind: why do so many comedians use profanity? It seems like it's not just a some-do, some-don't thing; it's a most-do, few-don't thing. Like you pointed out, for some it works and for others it's just stupid. But it seems like it's hard to find a good comedian who's not going to use it (and still be funny). Am I just looking in the wrong places, or are good profanity-free comedians really hard to find?

linux_chick 9 years, 1 month ago

TOB: Chris Rock is funny because he's skinny, gauky and he yells in a high pitched voice.

:) It just doesn't get any better than that.

acg 9 years, 1 month ago

I don't think cussing is that big of a deal. They're just words, after all. We each decide how we're going to let other's words affect us. I, personally, don't let words offend me. I think everyone is too easily offended, anyway. I cuss, sometimes like a truck driver, and that's okay. I'm 33 years old and if I want to say "$@^@$@#)!?" then I'm going to say it, regardless of whether some shrinking violet is whining about how it hurts their precious, virginal ears. Like the Mac Man says "sometimes you gotta be hard, America, cause life is hard!".

PS I love the Dice Man

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

acg, how do you pronounce $@^@$@#)!?

Anyway, the "they're just words" thing just doesn't make sense to me. The entire intended impact of them requires that they not be "just words." When they do become just words to someone, then, as several people have noted, it makes that person start to sound less and less intelligent.

What do you let offend you?

allateup 9 years, 1 month ago

I was shopping with my 8 year old daughter over the weekend. She saw a tshirt with a picture of a turtle on it and the phrase "shut the shell up". She got it and we never use that phrase at my house. So to answer the question, YES!

badger 9 years, 1 month ago

acg -

Do you at least agree that there are times when profanity is not appropriate?

Or, if you were an elementary school teacher, would you feel it was perfectly within your rights as a 33-year-old to say, "OK, you little @#%$&#$s, get out your &#% #&@%# math books. We're gonna learn some Long %&$#%@ Division today!" I admit that Long Division, had I been versed in the intricacies of obscenity at age 8, would likely have driven me to profanity quite handily.

However, I've generally found that as someone's open and public use of profanity increases, especially in situations where it has little or no place, the amount of class I mentally attribute to him decreases. I admit that it's a prejudice about profanity, but I don't know that it's an unreasonable one.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Ah ha! Ubermime hit it. Watch where you use it! Using it during most job interviews probably wouldn't score you bonus points with that potential employer.

Also, just a thought on the "good old days" thing. It's all well and good to bash on people who talk wistfully of the good old days, but just remember: at some point, 29 March 2006 will, in fact, be the good old days, and then some youngster will be yelling at you for thinking it was good when, in his view, it was lousy. Keep perspective on it.

kcwarpony 9 years, 1 month ago

There is a time and place for everything, even words. To say they are "just words" is to be disrespectful to a language and to those who speak it. Words should not be abused. For example, the Algonquian language has a word for female genitalia, squw, but because of incorrect usage and abuse, today it is the equivalent to the word cnt. Call any good Indian woman a squ*w and she will more than likely think about reaching down and grabbing a pair, if not actually do it!

You have been warned.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 9 years, 1 month ago

I always wondered if you use the "f" in every sentence, what can you say when you hit your finger with the hammer. You've used up the good stuff. I guess you'd have to cry, so those who use swear words constantly are cry babies? right?

badger 9 years, 1 month ago

harley - Please tell me you're kidding and they don't have a category of problem bikers for which the acronym is 'OMG'.

That, in and of itself, is hysterical to me. Do they also have Renegade Outlaw Faintly Libelous Motorcycle Anarchist Organizations (ROFLMAO)?

pony - most of the words for female genitalia can't be said in polite company, but if you name your son Richard, you can refer to him all you want by one of the most common words for male genitalia, and you can call his pet rooster by another with no problems.

Go figure, huh?

acg 9 years, 1 month ago

Oh yeah Badger, I'll totally concede that profanity is definitely not appropriate in many places; schools, church, around kids, etc. And I'm always careful to watch what I say around kids and people that you can just tell are too uptight to handle it. In answer to your question sgt, not much does offend me in the way of profanity, movies, music, off color jokes, porn, entertainment, etc. because I've always been a live and let live person. I know that people are all different, live different lives, have differing opinions on what has entertainment value and what paths they choose to take. I can't judge others for what they do lest they judge me in return for what I do and none of us are qualified for that position. The things that do offend me are more along the lines of crimes against children and elderly, near genocides of entires peoples by their governments, senseless slaughter of people by other people for a few measly dollars or bragging rights, etc. Those are the things in this world that I find offensive. Not whether or not someone uses the F word.

linux_chick 9 years, 1 month ago

agreed, kcwar.

There are some phrases that are much more offensive to me than a person cussing. A person can use polite language to voice a thought that is completely out of line, while a teenager remarking that the cafeteria meatloaf is total sh** doesn't seem bad at all (to me).

I think your "a time and a place" mentality as a general rule makes a lot of sense. Though, it means we'd have to think about the context rather than relying on generalities (ie: xes are acceptable words and ys are not)... and in general applying mental energy is not something we enjoy.

kcwarpony 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey, badger, I know one word used for female genitalia that is used in public all the time! (Please forgive me for typing the whole word out, my sisters.) Squaw Valley Squaw Ski Resort Squaw Creek Squaw Mountain: and on and on. Thankfully Squaw Peak has been renamed.

A more direct translation for the word is vagina. Now, read those names again. Cracks me up everytime! So the lesson here should be PROPER usage of words.

I've never been able to call a man Dick, unless I really meant it! "Hey, come over and meet Dick and shake his hand:" I don't think so!! Let's go with Rich or Ric or something:

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Offensive ideas and offensive expression are different things. The person using the polite language would be offensive to some with his thoughts, whereas the teenager commenting on the meatloaf is expressing an inoffensive thought (unless you work in the cafeteria) using potentially offensive language. The offensive idea is going to be offensive regardless of the words used to express it. The question is: are there better ways for the teenager to express that thought?

kcwarpony 9 years, 1 month ago

BTW, how does the name Dick from the name Richard?

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

If the glove don't fit Rob, you must acquit Bob?

I always felt for the man named Richard Dick. He had nowhere to go with that one.

badger 9 years, 1 month ago

harley - Now, the next time I'm driving down the road and I see a motorcycle club out for a cruise, I'm going to have to ask myself if they're OMG Bikers!

We had a shooting here recently, speaking of Hell's Angels, of someone who had reportedly been warned by one group not to try and set up a chapter of the Hell's Angels (can I say 'hell' if it's a proper name?) here. Someone took him out all sniper-style.

There was a tizzy.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Something tells me "Heck's Angels" just wouldn't have the same ring.

Nope, it doesn't.

YourItalianPrincess 9 years, 1 month ago

LOL is all I'm going to say about all the posts in here today. All of you had me cracking up my stomach hurt.

kcwarpony 9 years, 1 month ago

omb, you know what they say about opinions and certain body parts! (Is that actually a body "part"?) I just love it when non-Native people tell Indians what our words means. Unless Cecil Adams is native or any of the people he refers to for information are native, I will have to disagree with him and side with Suzan Shown Harjo. I will give him the point about how it may be the wrong language family. Our languages can be very difficult and in some cases have died out altogether. There will always be debate. One thing I took from the article was that this was someone telling Indians when to be insulted and when not to be. I see why it's called Dope.

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

So who you gonna believe? Old dead white men's versions of what Indians really said or used in their languages or the real deal? Many of the explanations are based on what the whites of the time wrote and passed down to others.

All I know is --- once my red haired, blue eyed grandfather thought he was making a joke by referring to my grandmother as his "little sq**w" ---- let's just say he took a lesson on the true meaning and danger of someone "going on a warpath" and never said it again :)

Come on now, if it is offensive to Indian/Native American women and men, it's offensive -- period. Let's not chalk it up to a lack on enlightenment on the part of the race (crossing all tribal lines) that finds it offensive.

avhjmlk 9 years, 1 month ago

Well, the whole Dick versus names-for-female-parts thing in some ways probably goes back to the fact that, as a society, we place much more shame on a woman's sexuality than a man's. Remember all the discussions about the breastfeeding bill?

As for us, we like to play the game where, when a word has the syllable "dick" in it, like in ridiculous, you change the "dic" to "c0ck" and get "ricockulous." It's pretty fun...

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

Gootsie, I'm in Strong Hall and did not hear about any damage to this building -- but I did get 8 hours of administrative leave the following day :)

Linda Endicott 9 years, 1 month ago

You learn pretty fast as a kid where you can swear, and how vigorously. If you don't, you're pretty dense.

I wasn't allowed to swear within hearing of my mother when I was a kid. Didn't stop me from doing it when she wasn't around, however. In fact, one hilarious night as teenagers the three of us kids sat around the kitchen table swearing. My mother came in and told us to cut it out. We kept on doing it, just in lower voices, until we were whispering. She still claimed she could hear us. Impossible, but you didn't argue with her. We started writing them on the table in pencil, and were just stupid enough not to realize that now she had proof.

I use profanity all the time at home. Nobody bats an eye. I don't do it at work. I don't do it at the grocery store, or usually anywhere else public. When you're with a group of other people, you usually take your cue from them. If they think swearing is okay, you'll probably use it in front of them. You learn from other people what language is and is not acceptable around them.

Interesting to note here that if you pass a lone teenager on the street and have any conversation with them, they usually don't swear. If they have friends with them, they usually do. Some things are done simply to fit in with the subculture.

I can't say that profanity is any more prevalent now than it ever used to be. Just some different words is all. There's more on TV, but that's usually later at night. Gee, MGM had to pay a hefty fine just to let Clark Gable say, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

As for some of the other words people have mentioned here...well, you can't always keep away from them. The Dicks lived right across the street from the grade school I went to. Nice family. My sister went to school with a girl who had the last name of Peed. You can imagine the hell these people went through!

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

Strong Hall? I didn't know they named a building after me. I'm honored!

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

As well you should be, it a great building :) I'm not sure an F5 could do anything but break the windows!

Off to a meeting but I'll be back to see what YDP have been up to in my absence (hope that use of profanity didn't offend anyone :)

Sakuraba 9 years, 1 month ago

I personally think swearing can be a cathartic and zesty enterprise. Don't forget that a swear word, f@#$ or more specifically f@#$ing, makes up the English language's one and only infix. Much like the prefix and suffix, the infix can be added to certain words, provided in the case of the infix that it has at least two syllables. The infix is inserted in the middle of a word not to change the meaning, but simply to add emphasis. Now of course you could use some variation such as freaking, fricking, farging, flogging, et cetera, but it's really all an extension of f@#$ing in the end. Everyf@#%ingbody should take some time to themf@#$ing selves and contemf@#$ingplate the inf@#$ingfix so they can try to incorpof@#$ingrate it into their underf@#$ingstanding of the English language. You won't be disaf@#$ingpointed.

neopolss 9 years, 1 month ago

I love foul language. It is by far the most creative and impressive set of words in the English language. That said, f%@! no. Commonplace my arse. Down with the FCC. I am tired of paying for censored cable.

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

TOB, then it would be spelled Strawng Hall.

That's where I worked.

badger 9 years, 1 month ago

With regard to Cecil Adams and the 's' word, etymology and current usage don't always coincide.

It may be that the specific roots of the word are as he says, but that its usage within a population is not based in historical etymology but in an accepted meaning within the population. Regrettably, the US has done enough to scatter, fragment and intermix its tribal populations that it's not out of line to consider that perhaps pure linguistics and practical usage don't coincide.

I'm perfectly willing to admit that there are aspects of English on which linguistic study hasn't caught up with common usage. A lot of the teaching of tribal language use is going to be as oral tradition, which allows for dynamic change since literal meanings of one or more groups may have been documented when the study of the languages as a formal process was begun.

Look at all the different variants of the use of the N-word with reference to black people. Within different communities and in different contexts, it has a number of different meanings. However, the word most commonly referred to as its root, 'negro', simply means 'black' in Spanish and isn't at all something to be offended at as a word in and of itself. I can point out that the use of the word 'Negro' with regard to a black person is not inherently insulting and that person should only take offense if it's meant as a slur. I am, etymologically speaking, not exactly wrong.

But in common usage and a non-linguistic context, it's still gonna be an offensive word - not because of its literal verbal meaning, but because there is a connotation there, accepted by X fraction of the population, that offends.

I have had one person of tribal descent tell me that the s-word is terribly offensive and that there is no one-word insult equivalent in English, and it should only be used as slang to designate a woman of loose morals and low character (the comparison given was that it was not just like calling a woman a whore, but a cheap, tacky, diseased, illiterate, smelly ugly whore with a bad personality). I've had another tell me it's a not-terribly-flattering way to refer to a woman, but more along the lines of the 'b' word than the 'c' word. I've also heard that it's really not that big a deal at all. Etymologies, slang, usage, a lot of what offends and what doesn't will still be relative at the end of the day, I think, especially when dealing with oral traditions carried in fragmented populations across cultural mixing. Most language is essentially dynamic and the words that meant one thing 100 years ago (like, say, 'gay') have taken on a completely different meaning just through usage and language evolution.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 1 month ago

Foul language: While, after a couple of margaritas, I am prone to "talk like a sailor," I try to keep it in check. I try never to swear in front of children and I don't repeatedly say foul words. I do not let my children refer to their bottom as their butt. I think that sounds so crass coming from a child. I don't even let them say fart!!! So, yes, I think foul language, although subjective, is far too commonplace. That being said, sometimes I just can't help what the he!! comes out of my mouth. I'm prone to word vomit on occassion. Sometimes, but never in front of the kids, I just have to ask what the @#%$ is wrong with the world? I have approached people swearing in public and reminded them that my children were listening. They have always graciously apologized. I mean, what the he!! is their problem? Can't they tell that they are in public? But, as I tell my kids, just because they hear it, it doesn't mean they have to repeat it. Have a joyous day YDP! BTW, My 11 yr old refuses to listen to "Holler Back Girl" because it repeatedly uses the word sh!t (which has been OK'd by the FCC). My 9 yr old has no problem with it (although she won't say the word). Go figure...

sunflower_sue 9 years, 1 month ago

badger, I could be called the "b" word and I could own it and even wear it with pride. But NEVER the "c" word! I'm OK if my girfriends call me a s___! It is said in jest and is funny (because it is so not true). I think...

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

MD is right, Sakuraba. I actually read all of it and enjoyed it!

Keep posting!

kansas_prairieland 9 years, 1 month ago

Wow! What a visual you just gave me, CV!

........I think I'm gonna go throw up now.....excuse me, please!

kansas_prairieland 9 years, 1 month ago

....oh, and I don't know the answer to your question, CV. Maybe somebody else here does.

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

TOB: oddly enough, no, it is not -- yet it is Strong and as long as it stands will probably remain Strong.

c_v: egads, how long have you been this bloody sick?

Staci Dark Simpson 9 years, 1 month ago

I hate the c word too. Not sure why its just irritating. CV, your visual is disgustin'. Hope you don't kiss your mama with that mouth!!

kansas_prairieland 9 years, 1 month ago

Wow! CV got banned (it would seem).

You know, since we are talking about swearing and swear words today....I thought CV's question was legit (if not somewhat graphic).

Spacy, you're not sure why that word bothers women so much and neither am I. I'm sure that there are other people here who don't know why either.

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

For me it's the hard "k" sound and the "u". I don't know any other reason, I guess.

kansas_prairieland 9 years, 1 month ago

MD, CV just wanted to know why the "C word" bothers women so much.....and then he gave a rather graphic example as to why maybe it did....and then he got banned, I guess!

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

I think the answer to the late c_v's question is found in Genesis. This is a Ceallach paraphrase, of course, but basically it says that after creation, God looked at the man and said -- he can't make it alone -- then created [what I like to think of as] the "new, improved version" WOMAN :):) It bothers us more because we are the kinder, gentler form of mankind.

that's just my $.02

No one stand near me, I may get struck down by lightening -- anyway that's the message I got from it :)

Manson 9 years, 1 month ago

The whole idea about offensive language is rediclous. They are just words and they are only offensive because society has put value into them. No diffrence between saying Oh $h!t and Oh crap. Both express the same feeling yet are valued diffrently. I think that offensive language is rather attractive.

kcwarpony 9 years, 1 month ago

my_manly_essence??? Something tells me CV may be among us yet.

Sakuraba 9 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the kudos. It has pretty much been an endless source of amusement for me. Hopefully it will be for you as well. An old friend of mine told me that his linguistics professor at KU let him on to it, so I suppose the credit belongs to him. Unfortunately I don't know his name, but he is clearly a great man from whom we can all learn a great deal about ourselves and the world around us.

Much like Kazushi Sakuraba himself.

l_eustacy 9 years, 1 month ago

I thought profanity was imported from Topeka. It's all Topeka's fault.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 1 month ago

I'm wondering, since the FCC ok'd the word $hit and also f@#! (when not used referring to the act itself), can we use it on the OTS and be alright or will we get removed? Seriously, anyone brave enough out there to give it a try? I'm truly curious. I think we'd get the 'ol axe.

Arschloch, Good post! I only know two phrases in German. They are probably very similar to the two phrases I know in many other languages. Does that make me multilingual?;o)

james bush 9 years, 1 month ago

Too much profanity!! And a lot more than in the 50's when i learned to "CUSS"; actually I didn't learn , just picked it up as a part of being a dirty-minded boy going thru puberty.

Most of us grow up, but some go on watching movies , then making them. That's what Hollywood is now: just a bunch of dirty-minded little boys with little talent as story-tellers, unless its a dirty joke,ie, tarrantino and star geo clooney.

It's really depressing to hear and see women acting like dirty-mouthed, dirty-minded adolescents. These are going to be mothers and that's the shame!!!.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 1 month ago

jic, what about those dirty-mouthed, dirty-minded "men" out there? They may be fathers. Is that not a shame? I guess sexism wasn't that big of an issue in the 50's when you were "growing up."

"Hmmm, yes! Still much to learn," says Yoda, Jedi Master.

Night all...beddy bye time!

sunflower_sue 9 years, 1 month ago

Arsch, I'm gonna have to look that up. Thanks...I was off to bed and now you'll put me 5 minutes behind schedule. sigh This better be worth it ;o)

sunflower_sue 9 years, 1 month ago

Arsch, maybe at times...but only when appropriate. Now, off to bed with me! ;);)

Ray March 9 years, 1 month ago

&%$@# yeah! There's too much profanity!!

;)

james bush 9 years, 1 month ago

SunflwrSUE, Didn't mean disrespect for women. Double std I guess when I expect more from mothers. I think mothers deserve more respect because they at least seem to me to be responsible and dedicated to the welfare of their kids even when children are produced irresponsibly by lust alone. Men I think are not!

bearded_gnome 9 years, 1 month ago

jimincountry, no need to apologize, in my humble opinion at least, because what your reaction manifests is this: for thousands of years, it is women who have civilized us men. you know, men don't use fabric softner, and if left to our own devices, we'd never wash dishes, never ask for directions, and use force when finness would do well. it is the desire to please women, and look ahead across the generations which they bear in their wombs which draws us wild semi-civilized men to live somewhat modern, clean, respectable lives. I once read a study which showed that men, who had a doctor's appointment with a male doctor, would prepare for that appoint with X amount of personal grooming. however, when they knew they were seeing a woman doctor, it was 2X or often 3X grooming! so, what you are showing that ugly cursing is often more expected from us uncivilized rough-hearted men; and when the same cursing comes from a woman, it strikes a more discordant cord.
how ya' like 'dat?

Jay Bird 9 years, 1 month ago

I was going to post some choice words of my own, but it would just get deleted quicker than I could type it.

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