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Yes, I know profanity is among Everything's favorite pursuits (next to sex and noding itself, I would guess). However, I tend to find it a rather simple, unoriginal way of going about expressing oneself. Calling something a piece of shit or someone an asshole really doesn't express much beyond the fact that you dislike the thing in question. Tone of voice carries the rest--and the tone of voice effect can be added to any word, not just profanity. Especially when confronting someone, other words would be much more effective than profanity: using easy curses and old tried-and-true swears is likely to get you little more than retaliation in kind. If, instead, you unload on someone the longest insult in Shakespeare, or say something utterly bizarre, they're likely to be stunned, speechless and wide open for further attack. It also carries the added benefit of making you sound like Pseudo_Intellectual, something many a noder aspires to.

wharfinger: I'm not necessarily saying to zap profanity. I'm merely bringing it to some people's attention that it is not as effective as they would like to think. True, it takes some degree of intelligence to use a more interesting turn of phrase, but as you said, if you're lacking that, you're in bad shape in the first place.

Who cares about uncreative people? They're doomed anyway. In my ever-so-fucking-humble opinion, profanity is the first refuge of people who are creative (like for example Kurt Vonnegut, as mentioned below). Ha! Take that!

I'm joking. It's all meaningless. Look, you're proposing that we eliminate an arbitrarily chosen set of words from our invective. Why zap this particular set? Why not prepositions, or words that begin with 'A'? If you're using only one word, well, you're stuck in any case: They've all been used before, every blessed one (prepositions in particular; they're common as dirt). If you're using more than one word, then you've got a sentence, right? If the sentence as a whole hasn't been used before, who cares if it's got "fuck" in it somewhere?

In any case, I'd rather hear some good, healthy, trite Anglo-Saxon monosyllables than sit through somebody making a spastic and hopeless attempt at being "creative". Furthermore, on E2 "creativity" is generally defined as "a compulsion to emit incoherent, illiterate bullshit", and that's got nothing to do with profanity one way or another. Using words you can't spell or define isn't "creative", it's annoying.


Tem42: I agree entirely, but refraining from annoying people isn't the subject at hand.

Segnbora-t: You're right too, or rather Kurt is right. On most of the rare occasions when I kid myself into thinking that what I have to say is worth hearing, I do use "clean language". Right now, of course, I had to use "foul language"; how could I not?

To answer Wharfinger's question: The reason to get rid of a set of words would be because you don't like it.

True, getting rid of a set of words you like can be fun, but only for a while. It might seem like a good game, but try going without prepositions for just 30 minutes (of conversation). It's not easy.
As a rule, keep the stuff that people like, and get rid of the stuff they don't like.

And yes, there are some people who don't like profanity. And here we come to the point that the choice is not arbitrary; while the sounds may be chosen by the whims of fate, the meanings have a distinct and somewhat unsavoury place in our social milieu, and you know it.

#37 in a series of slightly sarcastic writeups.

I always liked a comment I heard attributed to Kurt Vonnegut: "Profanity gives people an excuse not to listen to you." If you cuss, that will turn some number of people off to anything you have to say, no matter how good it is. Just something to be aware of at times when you have something to say that you really want people to hear.

Anyone who says this clearly hasn't seen Withnail and I. At its best, swearing can be absolutely glorious, a release and a firm expression of something otherwise inexpressible with the same strength and often hilarious. When Withnail says, for example, 'You can stuff it up your arse for nothing, and fuck off while you're doing it!' (as quoted under Withnail and I) it is very, very funny.

Swearing, like everything else, is as effective as the person who's executing it. I know excellent swearers; I know hopeless swearers. Certainly it's true that these words must be used relatively sparingly to maintain their impact - a well place cunt can work wonders - but that doesn't mean that using them is automatically uncreative. Rather, it's uncreative to blindly chop out a very potent section of your vocabulary and refuse full stop to use it.

Of course, the silliest thing about all this is that if the people who are offended by swearing weren't offended the people who swear to offend them would stop... thus the best way to reduce profanity is by welcoming it with open arms.

(note how I managed to negotiate this entire node without once using a lame line like 'I fucking love swearing.' That really is uncreative.)

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