Some of you may be quite surprised to know that I take a very liberal stance when it comes to swearing. It’s a difficult topic to write about, considering that most of you will probably disagree with my point of view. But really, ask any high school-aged person what the f-word is and I’d say that all but the most prudish would be able to tell you (and even then, the prudes probably know but just can’t bring themselves to say it). In and of itself, that proves nothing. But you’ll find that as these words get more and more accepted into the general lexicon, their offensive value will begin to diminish. There are many words in general use today that wouldn’t have passed the mouths of any except the most filthy, vile dregs of society a few centuries ago.
Swear words have meaning. Sometimes, it is just more convenient to use a swear word rather than a longer word or phrase. For example, “bitch” is a word that is fast becoming widely accepted. Most people now wouldn’t bat an eyelid if they hear it (even radio and TV don’t “bleep” it out any more), and few would be able to think of an alternative way to describe a vindictive woman other than to call her a bitch. Of course, to say it to her face would be offensive, because people may not accept or recognise their own personality flaws. The point here is, swear words lose their potency over time, and what we find offensive now may not be in the (near) future.
Swear words convey the extremes of emotion. When was the last time that you felt “bummer” was an appropriately satisfying utterance for when you stubbed your toe against something so hard that it bleeds? It is an extreme situation requiring a suitably emotive response. Most would probably use a euphemism such as “shite” or “fudge” but it is essentially said with the same spirit, so should it be considered any less offensive? The great thing about language is that words can have intensity, eg. excellent => good => average => mediocre => poor. Why shouldn’t we use words of high intensity for intense situations? Being able to use the full spectrum of language only helps to colour the world that we live in.
Of course, where would we be without a song? Today’s post comes to you courtesy of the heart-broken Eamon, and his song “Fuck it (don’t want you back)”:
Fuck what I said, it don’t mean shit now
Fuck the presents might as well throw ’em out
Fuck all the kisses, they didn’t mean jack
Fuck you you ho, don’t want you back
How much less would the impact of this be, if instead he had used these lyrics:
Ignore what I said, it don’t mean naught now
Forget the presents might as well throw ’em out
Stuff all the kisses, they didn’t mean much
No way you tramp, don’t want you back