Thursday, 17 June 2021

Swearing

 Is it just me or does anyone else feel the same.   At school we were always taught that if we couldn't think of a better word to use than a 'swear word' then we needed to work on our vocabulary.   I never heard my father swear other then perhaps the occasional 'damn' if he hit his thumb with the hammer or something like that.   Neither did I ever hear my brother swear.    Later, when I married, I never heard my first husband swear - and I am sure he knew a few approopriate words having been in the army (and a prisoner of war) and when I married the farmer, early in our marriage I said to him,'I have never heard you swear David.   Do you swear?' and his immediate reply was, 'not in front of ladies'.   Have I just been lucky or were we old fasioned?

I ask these questions in the light of revelations in today's Times about e mails between politicians (I really don't think at the the moment they deserve capital letters) in which every other word is the 'f word' - and I ask whether the use of the f word as an adjective adds anything use ful.   Surely all it does is to 'soil' the question and belittle the questioner.  I wonder how such communications will be viewed in future generations.

Do you have a view on this?   Is there a time and a place for such language?   I think not but then, maybe I am just old-fashioned.

37 comments:

CynthiaInOlympia said...

First off, I love reading you every day. You are a survivor and so like my Mother.

Second, on the swearing. Never heard either of my parents or family ever use a swear word. My Mom would only spell S H I T on very disheartening occasions.(usually cooking) it seems so common nowadays. My husband, who was in the Navy during the Viet Nam
"war", uses the "F"word alot as do I. Bad Habits that I am trying to break. There are so many more colorful phrases to use...for example...You milking puking lickspittal or you ratpacking gobsnob! Aren't those more fun?

Jennifer said...

I'll admit I swear sometimes when by myself and something happens (like while my neck was so painful the other day!) and when I'm with close friends and we're just joking around. But it's a pretty rare thing for me these days and I certainly never use those words in emails or written communication. And of course, working in a school it behooves one to speak politely and not use salty language, and those habits spill over into my personal life.

Swearing doesn't offend me unless I'm out in public and hear someone cursing loudly. To me it signals a lack of respect for all the people within earshot.

Jennifer said...

I just remembered something a friend said to me once, talking about her snooty snobbish sister in law. She said, "She wouldn't say "sh*t" if she had a mouthful!" I thought that was pretty funny!

Tasker Dunham said...

I never swore at home and only swore at school when with others who did (I'm too impressionable). I've therefore always noticed when people do swear. I dislike it when someone pepper it throughout their speech every other word, but accept it when it's justified. You'll occasionally find it on my blog. For a politician to use it as an emphasiser is "hopeless". As the Daily Star puts it: 'Hopeless bloke said "Hopeless bloke is hopeless", says hopeless bloke.'

the veg artist said...

I agree with you Weave. I was always told that to swear was a sign of inadequate vocabulary.

The Weaver of Grass said...

What I really meant was that a politician like the Prime Minister to put that kind of language into print which may be seen in many years to come does not say much for our generation.

Ellen D. said...

I swear more than I used to as we were not allowed to use that language at home when I was young. Now a lot of words that we thought were inappropriate back in the day are just used as regular language today - like crap or pissed off or fart!
Politics have made me want to swear more but I usually don't use the "f word" aloud (only to my own self!)

Carruthers said...

We're talking about people I'd expect to swear a lot. It's one thing to use swear words, quite another to commit them to written text. To do so suggests you couldn't care less what impression you make on your colleagues. Again and again I see politicians exposed as individuals who one wouldn't give a responsible job to, doing things most of us would get the sack for. Perhaps they go into politics because they're unemployable or, at least, unpromotable. Politics is an easy way to gain a position of power for the latter. People who wouldn't even get you to water their pot-plants will go out, for some inexplicable reason, and vote for you to run the country.

And... if you're in charge (like the, er, PM) and you think someone in a key position (such as the Health Secretary during a pandemic) is useless, one has to ask, what have you done about it?

Tom Stephenson said...

Standards have most certainly dropped in all areas. Did you ever see any of 'The Thick of It'? As far as I can tell, the language was pretty accurate for the time. Everyone swears now Weave. I has become acceptable I think. I swear, but I don't like hearing it used in public amongst mixed ages or family groups when it could offend complete strangers. The widespread use of cocaine has made it normal - in inverted commas.

the veg artist said...

Yes, even more so in print, as most of us realise that what has been written (manually or virtually) remains for permanent scrutiny.

Sus said...

I'm 65 years old and never swore a day in my life until after I became an adult. I guess I was raised in an old fashioned home. My mother wouldn't even say "heavens" cause she thought it was against the Bible to swear on the heavens. lol

I never missed out on anything because of it. As an adult I say crap, pissed off, fart, etc. now without thinking much of it, and may occasionally use mild swear words like "d" "s" and "h", but I would NEVER say the "f" word and never will. I hate it, much like language derogatory to women that I won't even allude to here.

As far as I'm concerned those kinds of words should never be normalized; I think they're said so often mostly for their shock value, although I don't find them shocking so much as I find them offensive. They're not nice.

I appreciate the time you spend to write every day. You have a very nice, soothing way of communicating.
Susanne

R's Rue said...

I swear more than I’d like to admit. I should stop though. Thank you for sharing.
www.rsrue.blogspot.com

Debby said...

I swear. I was raised in a swearing family, and a few years in the Army cemented it. I noticed that as I get older, I swear less and less. Perhaps it is because I find less to get fired up about. The change in presidents has helped as well.

CharlotteP said...

I totally agree with you...It shows a lack of vocabulary if you can't emphasise what you want to say without swearing...a bit different, perhaps, if you drop a brick on your toe!! I recently read Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson, which was excellent, except that he kept using 'f***' this and 'f'''ing' that. You definitely don't expect it from an educated, quality, (older) author. It was disappointing and distracting - it possibly goes un-noticed by younger readers; unfortunately.

CharlotteP said...

PS Debby, I totally get what you say about the change in presidents!!

Susan said...

Swearing is quite common today, although not in my circle of friends.

CynthiaInOlympia said...

Debby,
Yes, change in presidents...but he is still around,,,no?

The Furry Gnome said...

I see and hear the same thing and I feel it very discomfiting.

sparklingmerlot said...

Language is dynamic and what was unacceptable generations ago is not as bad today, but we have to go through that period where the changes happen. Interestingly studies have shown that swearing helps people cope with pain. This, of course, is different from using profanities in written documents that can and will be made public - it hardly changes the meaning, does it!? I taught my sons that it is not necessarily what you say that matters, it's how and why you say it. And don't swear in front of your grandmother! I could call someone a silly bastard and depending on my tone and the context could be really angry or gently affectionate. As for the more divisive words - again, audience and context.

Marcia LaRue said...

I believe those of us who had to abide that miserable last president here in the U.S., relearned how to effectively swear! I know I did and I am not proud of that, but Trump brought out so much anger in far too many of us!
Thank God for Joe Biden! LOL Even he has been known to slip up upon occasion!

Red said...

I agree with you that there is no time and place for such language. It shows a weakness in the ability to express yourself. Now I have to admit that I do swear. I don't like seeing the foul language used on twitter and other platforms.

Cro Magnon said...

Like you, I never heard my parents swear. However, at school the word 'bloody' was in common usage, and was not considered a swear word. "Come here you bloody oik, get your bloody hair cut", etc, was quite normal. I still use the word today reasonably often, and still don't regard it as swearing.

Rachel Phillips said...

What grown ups share between themselves in private conversation is up to them.

Barbara Anne said...

I once read a wonderful quotation ... that said because all of the swear words are used too carelessly these days, rubbing the nap off of them so to speak, that there will be no words left when there is a real need to shock people into attention. If I find the quotation, I'll send it to you, Pat!

Hugs!

Angela said...

I was raised not to swear, and to have a wide vocabulary so I could make my point without such words. But I must admit, in the last 3 or 4 years, in the privacy of my own home, the behaviour of our UK politicians (and DT in the USA) has caused me to exclaim words I never thought I'd use, as I've listened to these men on the radio/tv. I find it really sad to pass a group of school kids at the bus stop and hear their chatter thoughtlessly peppered with f**/b**/sh** and more.

Derek Faulkner said...

It was rather predictable that people from your generation would find swearing unnecessary, but as one or two others have mentioned, it is pretty much common place nowadays. Listen to a mixed group of even young children walk past nowadays and the F word is freely used and they often grow up hearing their parents swearing just so.
You have read blogs on here that have even used the C word from time to time. I find that a lot of women, often well educated, now freely use the F word in conversation and if they do then I will feel free to do the same.

thelma said...

The only thing I can say about swearing is that it can be frightening, because of the force of the emotion behind the word is scary. Yet swear words have crept into fashion, one day we will get tired of them.

The bike shed said...

Most swearing is contextual and though it can be gauche I don't find it as offensive as some - indeed, I think we can be a little culturally over-sensitive.

That said - at the risk of being analytical - we need to make some distinctions for there are actually three types of swearing.

Firstly, there is what we might call blasphemy - we need to be very careful of saying this is unacceptable - think of the Charlie Hebdo murders which resulted from a cartoon, but the same can and has come from words.

Secondly, there is swearing which is used as a SLUR - using the N. word is a good example, but actually, it applies to any profanity which is intended to slur an individual - gay people have suffered something similar for centuries and there are many many more examples I could give. This is totally unacceptable.

Then finally, there is the type of swearing to which I think you refer - expletives and what we might call 'cussing' - this is, as I say, often crude and gauche but it offends our sense of decorum more than anything else.

Hope you found that an interesting distinction.

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain was the one to expound on profanities - he has numerous quotes on the subject worth looking up, and was in favour of a good old swear word or two when necessary.
My parents in-laws were Methodist, regular church attendees and devout, so when my mother-in-law had a cortisone injection in her elbow, she soldiered on getting dinner for the family that night, finally sat down to her own meal at the table, held her elbow tightly and shouted VERY loudly "S*#T"!!!!!
According to my husband, only a young teenager at this event, the whole family, already tucking into their meal, were all completely and utterly speechless., and frozen with forks to open mouths. I think my father-in-law made an audible gulp in the shocked silence and said..."...Mmmm..erm ... and .how IS your elbow Val.."
It's a generational thing kitchen-wise. These days my husband and I swear about anything from curdled custard to forgetting the mint sauce on the table for the roast lamb!

Daisy Debs said...

I don't mix with people who swear . I find it very jarring to follow a conversation when someone throws in filthy words . I once heard the saying that "People swear when they are losing the argument"

Jennyff said...

I was brought up not to swear, I try not to. However it seems an accepted part of the vocabulary nowadays and I hate it especially hearing young people using the most awful words, A friend in Italy offered to teach me Italian swear words, I declined, ignorance can be bliss.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

While one can perhaps excuse swearing in people who lack education and who are trying to fit in with others who swear often, it seems less forgivable in some others. Boris certainly doesn't lack an education and, if one can praise the man for anything, it's his remarkable skill in expressing himself vividly and memorably. To judge from the by-election result his position is not as unassailable as he'd like to believe.

Anne Brew said...

For the first time I'm going to have a different opinion to you.
I'm Irish so maybe that explains it but I swear and I'm not remotely ashamed of it.
I understand its a matter of opinion but I think there are far worse "sins" in the world and if by swearing one lets off steam then it has its uses.
The F word is not always used aggressively; sometimes it can be very appropriate!
I would never swear in front of certain people because I know it would upset them.
I'm not so much shocked by Boris swearing as by the fact that, believing his Minister of Health to be useless he kept him on and defended him in public.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Interesting topic. swearing being aligned with bad character is going by the wayside like the old social myth a tattoo indicates bad character. Methinks it is all about a need for folks to feel connected to being cool, with it, a regular person on a hip level. The F-word is one of the most versatile word in several languages. No other word can convey a mass of emotion and/or opinion with the precision as the f-word. I do, however, feel it is being over used by people trying too hard. The f-word has evolved beyond its original definition to a word on its own as a versatile expression.
When I turned 70 years, I thought to not use the f-word anymore to honor my maturity status. I knew immediately that is not practical. Instead, I decide to never call anyone an "f-word" idiot. Politicians make holding myself to that decision a challenge.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Wow! You have certainly 'gone to town' with your answers here - and interesting they are. As you have said before - when you all 'get going' on a topic it always makes me wish we were all in a room together, with a drink and time for a good chatty discussion. As I said higher up - what I really think is awful is that this e mail or series of e mails Boris sent to Cummings about Hancock may well go down in its written form for generations to come. I would prefer the Prime Minister of the UK to have said what he wanted to say in acceptable language bearing in mind that future generations might read it. What he actually says in private with his colleagues is a completely different matter.

Thank you all.

Brenda said...

I don’t use swear words

Andrew said...

I've never been a swearer although I think it useful at times in anger or for emphasis. The worst I heard when growing up was bloody and bugger. But I am out of step with so many young people who use strong swear words multiple times in every sentence. Like in all situations, you use language appropriate to the person you are speaking to. Feel free to swear as you like in a personal conversation if the other person doesn't mind, but just please don't do it loudly in public spaces.