Profanity - what's so bad about it?

WARNING! The following post contains "profane" words in a reported manner. If you are deeply religious or otherwise can not stand anything closely related to reproduction, please, do not read this post for the sake of your mental health. Otherwise, carry on reading.

If you've read some of my posts, you probably know I sometimes use profanity. Sometimes I use the word "b*tch," sometimes I use the word "f*ck." Sometimes I use the word "sh*t."

But, what's so bad about those words, actually? As hard as I'm thinking, I can't think of anything wrong with those words. The society tells us these words are profane and inappropriate. But what makes these words inappropriate?

Why can we use the word excrement or stool, but not sh*t? Why can we use the phrase "have sex" instead of "f*ck"? Wouldn't it be easier to just say "to f*ck each other" instead of "to have sex with each other" or even "to have sexual intercourse with each other"?

What's so bad about the word "f*ck", anyways?

Wikipedia defines profanity as following:
"As a result, "profane" and "profanity" has therefore come to describe a word, expression, gesture, or other social behaviour which is socially constructed or interpreted as insulting, rudeness, vulgarism, desecrating, or showing disrespect."

Is the word "f*ck" insulting, rude, vulgar, desecrating or disrespectful? There's nothing insulting in it. And what does "rude" even mean? As in "disrespectful"? Why is "f*ck" disrespectful? It's just a word, a synonym to sexual intercourse. Desecrating? Seriously? Yes, sex is not allowed outside marriage by the christian "law...". But inside the marriage, there seems to be no problem with it. So why is referring to it such a desecration?

Is the word sh*t insulting, rude, vulgar, desecrating or disrespectful? No. None of those things. "Sh*t" is a synonym to stool, excrement. Which is a thing our bodies produce. Therefore, are our bodies rude, insulting, vulgar, desecrating or disrespectful? Why would they be? We are a part of nature. Why does our body insult anyone? (does it?) Why is our body rude? (is it?) Why is it vulgar? (is it?)
And why would our body be desecrating, as, according to the Christians, man was made by god. Therefore god's work isn't sacred?

Is the word b*tch insulting, rude, vulgar, desecrating or disrespectful? Why would it be? It's literal meaning, up to this day, is female dog. Yes, I can see how being called a dog can be insulting. But if it's used not in the context of calling someone it and used as "b*tching about something" then how come it's wrong to use it in that context?

How come has our society learned to avoid these words? How come do we avoid people who use these words?

They are just words... Words alone do no harm. It's what you can do with those words is the problem.

Views: 1608

Tags: about, bad, it, profanity, so, what's


You need to be a member of Geeks to add comments!

Join Geeks

Comment by JS on November 24, 2009 at 2:09pm
@Nerd Enterprises, Inc. That's a really good point. Profanity is unimaginative. Then again, do we have to be so f**king creative with our words in everyday life?

Unintelligent? Only if you use these words wrong. Which is not an easy thing to do.

And there's another thing.

Swearing is only considered immature or unintelligent in the United States. When I take a look at television in the United Kingdom, I can hear a lot of profanity, which, unlike US television, is usually coupled with laughter or, in some cases, even cheering (well, the context is different and the way these words are expressed are different - not just random swearing). (examples of such shows in the UK are Mock The Week, Argumental, Have I Got News For You, Live at the Apollo, Michael Mcintyre's Comedy Roadshow, etc.)

My point is... well... I don't really have a point to this post, other than the fact that in some cultures swearing is not seen as bad as in others. And that has a lot to do with the religion and liberality of the culture.
Comment by Seth David on November 23, 2009 at 11:56pm
I used to not think "swearing" was a big deal. Over time I have come to the following conclusions from listening to others:
• When someone "swears" it comes across (to me) as unintelligent - don't get me wrong I do it myself so I am not judging - just offering perspective.
• I heard someone say that when we swear it is a way of drawing attention to what we are saying, which is unnecessary because if anyone is listening to us, there is no need to draw any more attention.
• It suggests a certain lack of imagination (or effort at using one) when someone “swears”. There are usually better ways of getting the point across with much more eloquent language.

Now for some perspective - here is my latest "blooper" video in which I lost it and said F*ck. One F*ckin interruption aftrer another. I didn't realize I left the camera on so this goes for a few minutes after.

So while I do agree that we can do much better at coming up with ways of saying what we want to, sometimes I just lose the capacity to to that, and I am reduced to using profanity.
Comment by Dmitri on November 19, 2009 at 7:41pm
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
Comment by John Casper on November 18, 2009 at 10:38am
Ah, come on Dan, you're not that old! You know what a processor is, that's gotta count for something! :P
On a more serious note, who can say whether or not we swear? And after that, what next? What we think? Language is how we express ourselves. That's not to say swear in front of children, but you get the point.
Comment by John Casper on November 18, 2009 at 9:58am
Ever seen Penn and Teller's Bullshit? (no, I didn't sensor, it's the actual name of the show) They had an episode about profanity, and you're right. They're just words. In most cases, just spoken, not to hurt anyone. It's amazing how many people act as thought speaking such words will bring the Apocalypse. It's all a state of mind, in your head. And I'm not implying anyone's state of mind is wrong, either. But the day you get over it and accept the fact that people are going to swear is the day it quits being an issue.
That's my 2¢.
Comment by Bob on November 18, 2009 at 9:12am
Well, I suppose you could say "They're just words," but if they don't pack a punch, why use them? Human beings are the only creatures blessed with the capacity for meaningful language; some believe that this blessing comes with the moral responsibility to use "words" thoughtfully. This is why all world religions believe that lying is a sin. A lie is not "just words".

So, you can't swear and say that "They are just words." You would be contradicting yourself. If the words have no meaning, then why say them? People use swear words because they are filled with meaning. Many would say that swearing is a sin because it represents a loss of control or because it it the verbal expression of sinful or disgusting thoughts. In any case, many people find swearing offensive and believe that people who swear have bad manners or do not respect those around them or themselves.
Comment by JS on November 17, 2009 at 12:56pm
@Bob, but why is swearing so bad? Why does it make you such a bad or disgusting person?
Because of society? The society is a bunch of idiots. We follow customs thousands of years old, which show no real meaning in today's world.

@Dan, I read that article. It was interesting, but it actually never once showed why you shouldn't swear. It said that cursing is the expression of evil in one's heart. But why are distinct words considered evil, if they literally mean parts of nature? Is nature evil?
Which brings me to another point. I know this isn't the right time or place, but is homosexuality unnatural? And is unnatural a bad thing?
Unnatural means outside of nature. And if that is always a bad thing, and nature is evil according to my logical thinking before, then everything is negative - either natural or unnatural, whatever way you may put it?
Just sharing my thoughts.
Comment by Bob on November 17, 2009 at 9:21am

Comment by Bob on November 17, 2009 at 9:15am
"What the f***!" These days, most of our sentences contain "bleep sounds" to express our level of emotion. This "swear words" trend is making me think we are losing command over the language and I wonder if we are gradually becoming less intelligent and lazier.

Do I swear?

Well, guilty as charged, but definitely non-audibly. Perhaps all of us do it when we are mad at someone and we tend to mutter some not-so-civilized words under our breath.

Is cussing publicly in a workplace or a public forum ever proper behavior?

For some, using curse words is trendy as well as tough. I suppose the shock value is extremely exciting. For others, perhaps cussing is a way to reduce stress. Some just find it fun.

To me, public swearing demonstrates one's poor vocabulary, low intelligence and lack of class. Using swear words is disrespectful and shows lack of sensitivity towards the audience.

These days, swearing is prevalent anywhere regardless of language, location and gender. I am surprised to see the liberal use of swearing in Facebook and other public forums. Cussing even gains support from forum members in the name of free speech.

In a survey conducted by American Demographics -- 72% of men and 55% women swear in public -- that survey also said swearing in public was more common with the young (18-34). Do older people tend to feel young by swearing?

I am not sure about any such research on Indian demographics, but having a quick look around me, I can easily say we are not far behind.

Cussing is also common in the area of sports. If you've ever been around soccer or cricket players, you would want to wash out their mouths with toilet-cleaner while washing out your own ears!

We claim to be a part of a civilized and developing society, but I fail to understand why we have adapted such a lackadaisical attitude towards the language we use. It's sad to wait for the day when an entire conversation will wholly consist of only "bleep sounds."
Comment by JS on November 17, 2009 at 8:51am
On this point I agree with you completely. Calling someone with these words can be demeaning.

But using these words to describe what they literally mean or a general form of swearing - what's the real problem with it?
I can swear in 5 languages: English, Estonian, Russian, German (although just one word in german and I don't speak German AT ALL) and Spanish.
Swearing is one of the first things I learned when I started learning a language, or even before.
But why is it so bad? Why? In the context of not calling anyone these things, how come are these words so bad?

And why is calling someone a piece of sh*t is different from calling a slice of excrement? The meaning is the same, but if the first thing were to be said, people get angry. If the second one were to be said, people die from laughter...

© 2015   Created by Chris Pirillo.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service