Sometimes I will use this space for foiling. Which is to say, I will highlight one thing to show how much I disdain something else. But look, not everything can be delightful. That’s life.

I am going to tread lightly here because I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea. Though now I’m not really sure what the right idea would be in this case. But I am what you would call a swearer. A potty mouth. A sailor. That is how I grew up, okay. My father was a construction worker and I have four sisters so you do the math. We never took the Lord’s name in vain and I don’t now. I don’t refer to body parts with words beginning with the letter ‘C.’ And I try not to direct my expletives at people. ‘B*@ch’ for example, is a verb not a noun. Swear words are like guns. Very fine to have and use, but don’t point them at people.

But I am a lover of the English language and let’s just say that love covers a pretty generous swath. I like colorful, and there are few words I actually hate. There is, however, a word, that if I could strike from the English language so that I never have to hear it cross my ears again, it is this barf euphemism often used in place of a far better, more creative, and stronger word. The offender: Frickin’.

This is the linguistical equivalent of a fence-rider. Not enough moxie for the full F, not enough wit to think of something smarter. I am not opposed to euphemisms carte blanche. I like child-friendly, Grandma-style euphemisms because they are completely ironic and hilarious. Examples include hoohoo, chacha, poochatch, tatas, and beebleberries, three of which sound like something off a menu at a Mexican restaurant. I also like fiddlesticks, shucks, fudge, sugar, and son-of-a-biscuit.

Effing, A-hole, douchebag, jackass, and putz, are milder expletives, but welcomed. But for F#*@’s sake, I would rather you take a full flying jump off the cliff and just drop that F-bomb and deal with the consequences, than to stick your toe out and tumble clumsily down the side of the mountain like a buffoon with that lame, white-trash “frickin’.”  Gaaaah.

Swear words have always held tenuous sway in our household. For a while, ‘shut up’ could get you a nasty parental glare, but then the older constituent grew up and brought their lingo with them and suddenly ‘shut up’ was the least of our parents’ worries as they tried to shield the innocence of the youngers. But there was a fly in the Vaseline, noticed, of course, by my keenly observant sister L, who probably could have made it big as a logician if she’d cared to, such are her skills for detecting the breakdown of an argument. Seems that as my stepfather was out on the ‘shut-up’ witch hunt, he was concurrently peppering his own parlance with the occasional ‘ass.’ When confronted about it (by her) he blew it off, saying it wasn’t a swear word. They used it on TV. Mistake.

Naturally she took it and ran with it. Like fast. Welcome any sort of expression that might necessitate a swear word, now completed with this (evidently) non-swear word. “What the ass were you thinking?” “Ass-you.” “Ass-off” and of course, “Shut the ass up.” There was no recourse.

So am I delighted by profanity? Well, when it is creatively used and well-timed (like not in front of Granny), I would say, yes. Do I feel guilty about that? Umm, well, no. But do I feel guilty about not feeling guilty about it? Absolutely.


6 thoughts on “Potty-Mouth.

  1. Perhaps Easten told you about a recent breach of rhetorical etiquette in the Higgins household in which upon discovering that Terry had not turned off the kitchen light at bedtime, I was seized upon by a demonic spirit who forced me to say, “You lazy sack of sh**.”

    My kids are still not allowed to say “shut up.”

    One day I instructed my kids not to use the expression “Get your butt out of here.” After my lecture, they all ran outside and I heard a five-year-old John say to his sister, “Get out of here, Butt!”

    Easten, shouldn’t Jacki meet Derek?

    • Well-timed and delivered. But, obviously a demonic spirit. A genteel primrose such as yourself would never have that laying around in her vocabulary. Not sure if that is actually a violation of headship and submission. I suppose it would depend upon who then went and turned off the light.

  2. I’ll be the curmudgeon of the crowd. The F word is used as every part of speech, but rarely, if ever, improves a conversation. It merely says: I feel this strongly, or I’m angry, and it often shows a lack of wit, a lack of creativity, a lack of use of larger vocabulary. It is a way of appealing to belonging to the earthy set: “Hey, I’m one of you because I say this word too.” Does vulgarity really aid us? I guess I draw the line at “crap” and a very occasional “shit” or “dumbass” which I suppose I sink to because I want to state something strongly. I don’t see vulgarity as sinful, just – well, often ridiculous, and very repetitive. I find your candor intriguing, and am glad you disallow profanity, for God’s name should not be taken in vain. Erase all those instances and some people would lose 1/4 of their words.

  3. Sharoncopy,

    I am even more curmudgeonly. Despite my demon-possessed recent outburst, I am opposed to the use of both profane and obscene language. I find such language understandable during times of extreme stress–such as in times of crisis or when one’s spouse fails to turn off lights–but other than that I think profane and obscene language is inconsiderate, intemperate, and uncivil. Language matters and I think even euphemisms demonstrate a particular respect or care for how language impacts culture.

    Of course language shifts: words become archaic or their meanings change. But in every culture there will be words that denote sexual parts and activities or excretory-related terms, and which are deemed socially unacceptable. Whatever those words are, a society is diminished when it fails to recognize those linguistic boundaries. I think the effects are both symbolic and real. We undermine the idea that some things are private and intimate, and in so doing, we undermine the cultural valuation of the virtue of modesty.

    As to childhood euphemisms for body parts and functions: I agree with Jacki in that I too am charmed by such euphemisms. No young child has any intrinsic or compelling need to know the anatomically correct terms for body parts related to sexual (or excretory) functions. Despite “progressive” declamations to the contrary, young children function quite well using colloquial terms that many parents find more charming, more euphonious, and less clinical. If communication is the point of language, “tush” seems to work as well as “buttocks.”

    Is using the word “noggin” instead of head; or “tummy” instead of abdomen or stomach; or “pointer” rather than “index finger”; or “peepers” instead of “eyes” problematic? Should we use the correct term, “laryngeal prominence,” rather than the colloquial term, “Adam’s Apple”?

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