Where I come from, using what’s generally referred to as “foul” language or swearing is normal, so much so that one of my childhood memories is as I was leaving Church one Sunday morning commenting, “I’m (expletive) glad that’s over” to which my Aunt coming from behind articulated herself with a cuff on my ear; “mind your (expletive) language”!
However I may have thrived by my personal love of language since or how often I write something, I often used the exact same phrase when my own children use “bad” language and they laugh at it, understanding my true desire is to have them understand that such language may not be deemed socially acceptable by some people or in some places.
One of the results of this is that there are other words that are in everyday use which have a much greater negativity. What this really means is those who elect themselves as our betters have a list of words that should not be used socially and when they are, automatically define the user as a socially and/or intellectually inferior person, the lowest common social denominator or just “common”. Using such language in some places will make you unwelcome.
Ultimately as far as the modern English language goes, many of these words are junk or obsolete and really have little or no relevance or resonance today other than to emphasize a commentary or be leveraged, allowing one group or an individual feel superior over the other.
Being Irish, I’m familiar with how in a bygone era the English language was forced upon us with great enthusiasm by the governing administration of the time. If I were to be really truthful, I might even go as far as to say that our language in use at the time, an ancient Gaelic dialect drawn from the invading Celts never had a comparable range or the communication power of English. It can then be argued it might just be the most positive thing our neighbors did for us.
Of course, the Irish responded by improving on this language with awesome creativity and imagination through wordsmiths such as Beckett, Stoker, Swift, Wilde, O’Flaherty, Joyce, O’Connor, Moore, Synge, Yeats, Behan, to name a few from an ever increasing list that you have to be dead to get on to. It’s also a generally accepted probability after a few drinks that Shakespeare was just another hard drinking Irishman.
The imperfection in all of this is that when the English were ramming this shtuff into us, they also taught us the basics of swearing and again even that skill has been raised to an art form. Me, I am an occasional practitioner of this tradition. Like our everyday English, we have added great color and pathos to swearing. We did get a great starter pack and still get the odd gem passed over from the English themselves. However, there are other words in everyday use we should reconsider. There are at least two such words that could be hailed as monoliths of the “bad” language vibe.
The “h” Word.
The first of these that I aspire to have eradicated is the “h” word. Having personally witnessed (often in direct confrontation) a religious and civil war for three decades, I have come to understand that the fuel for such extended human misery comes mostly from hatred, a deeply negative, soul scorching and base primal emotion that one human can and will inexplicably pile on others. This is a word that has meaning so poisonous and bereft of human spirit; it really should be avoided more assiduously than any other word in any language. There are so many less personal and toxic words that we could use here.
The “S” Word.
The second word I avoid using is “stupid”. This is in very common usage. Folks use it all the time without knowing what it really means and how it applies to each one of us. Too often it’s a word invoked by one person to assert intellectual superiority over another or even over very large groups. Having a different set of priorities to ours does not make anyone stupid.
To apply this word to an individual or group generally is rushing to judgment and is often a poor reflection on the user. There is no biological or mental condition commonly defined as stupid. All living things are governed by nature which dictates all will rise to the individual level of competence and this being the case, how can any living thing be called “stupid”? No matter how smart you think you are, we’re all ignorant about different things.
These are just two words in casual everyday use that make any “swear” word I know look like what they really are; harmless. This is not a case for swearing in public, but a pointer in another direction: Check and develop your lexicon. Don’t use those negative words and you will for sure have a much more positive vibe.
David Tracey is the Writer and Producer of Fraud Prevention (FP)101
An eCourse in personal fraud protection through awareness.