In defence of swearing

FrdayFlashBadgeI swear a lot. I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m the worst person to have around your kids because I swear so casually that I don’t notice I’m doing it. I do try to remember when kids are around, but even that bothers me to some degree. They’re just words. Though I do understand that little Sally turning up in a schoolyard and telling her teacher to go fuck herself is a potential parent/teacher-relation nightmare.

But they are just words. Of course, they’re words with a certain power. All words have power. Love is not a swear word but it carries enormous power. As does hate. The taboo nature of swearing gives these words added power. We can deliberately drop them like bombs. You want some attention in a loud conversation? Don’t talk any louder than everyone else, just swear more. People will sort of grind to a halt and look at you, their expressions all cautious and surprised. But you got their attention.

That’s why it really bothers me when people say, “Swearing just shows a lack of vocabulary and an inability to express yourself properly.” Fuck off, you pompous cunt. Not swearing shows an inability to use the words that would express your position most clearly.

For example, if someone is all up in your face, as the kids say these days, what expresses your real emotion more:

Go away!

or

Fuck off!

It’s not a case of lacking vocabulary. It’s a case of picking the most powerful word for the occasion – the right word. We recently visited the Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh. The place was a bit underwhelming, to be honest. But while there we got a set of fridge magnets with all of Shakespeare’s best insults on them. A few choice ones include:

Cream faced loon! MacBeth

and

Thou crusty batch of nature. Troilus & Cressida

Or my personal favourite:

Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog. Richard III

But, clever and entertaining as they are, they don’t really work in today’s world for really expressing what you want to say. As I mentioned above, I can understand tempering your language around kids. Give them as much time being all sweet and innocent as possible. But don’t fear the usefullness of some quality, well placed swearing. Don’t overdo it or just swear every other word for the sake of it. That does just sound dumb. But equally, if a situation calls for a powerful word, don’t be afraid to use one.

And don’t ever tell me that swearing shows a lack of vocab or an inability to express yourself, because that’s clearly a load of bollocks.

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12 thoughts on “In defence of swearing

  1. You’ve just reminded me of a relevant joke:

    A Texan is on the Harvard campus and he stops someone and asks “Say, can you tell me where the library is at?”

    The Harvard student replies, “At Harvard, we don’t end a sentence in a preposition”

    The Texan replies, “Sorry, say, can you tell me where the library is at, fuckmunchkin*?”

    *-The original “asshole” is a bit boring.

  2. I shall add the term “fuckmunchkin” to my vocabulary. It will be a great addition words such as “fuck-knuckle” and “spank-martian”. 😀

  3. I actually just coined it and then checked Google to see how unoriginal it was — under 150 results! Fuck-knuckle’s new to me, added it.

  4. Deadwood is a great example of this. Though a period drama, the extremely prolific swearing is all made up of contemporary words. If they had stuck with words like ‘damn’ and ‘hell’, which would have been shocking in 1876, the gravity of the words would have been lost on today’s viewing public.

    Also different words have different levels of potency. Shit is pretty lame these days. It’s even used freely to describe a state of annoyance in Autralia – “That bloke gives me the shits.” (As opposed to the UK interpretation of “That bloke gives me loose bowels.”)

    Fuck is probably the most versatile swear word as it can be placed almost anywhere, even in the middle of another word, to provide emphasis. As exampled above it can be used as an accessory to other words to create something new and delightful – how can you not love the term fuck-knuckle? Often though, fuck will simply be treated as humorous or even just accepted by many as regular vocabulary.

    There are still a few words that hold ultimate power. Put the word ‘cunt’ into a sentence and you can pretty much silence a whole room. For some reason it still seems to hold that much of a taboo that even prolific swearers reserve it for special occasions. I still remember being rendered utterly speechless by a bubbly blonde called Sarah who turned on me and blurted “Don’t patronise me, you condecending cunt!”. Though it was in good humour, the context it was in was the verbal equivalent of being smacked round the head by a cricket bat.

  5. I remember that! And yes, that girl was a champion curser.

    As for cunt, there’s a whole feminist/equality discussion on why the word for female anatomy should be so much more powerful than words for male. Dick, prick, cock, etc. have nothing like the power of cunt. For whatever reason cunt is still the ultimate power word.

  6. C U Next Tuesday is a fabulous word – For some reason the Americans just sound so try hard when they say it though??

    The best term of endearment I know is ‘cuntguts’ – My old high school mates say it to me when I see them once every few years – ‘owsitgoin cuntguts’ The Aussie bogan is a real charmer eh!

  7. My favourite personal swearing (when I swear to myself when really pissed off) is a deliberate spoonerism which seems to make it even stronger: kucking funt!

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