When I was in the checkout at the grocery store once, the cashier accidentally entered the wrong amount of money I handed her and confused the register.
She hissed “@$#*!” and then slapped her hand over her mouth and murmured, “Oh, sorry.”
I smiled with understanding, but my interior voice said, “You know, you wouldn’t risk offending the customers if you didn’t cuss habitually.”
It’s time for a confession: I don’t curse … out loud. The filter between my brain and my mouth (or fingers) is fully engaged. I just hope it doesn’t go on the fritz when I become an old woman, causing me to walk around humiliating sailors.
What is it about the language that we use “colorful” words? It seems that in moments of high negative emotion we need to be able to erupt with something short (about four letters), vivid (the shade is usually blue), and abrasive (there’s a nicer word for that).
And yet there are those who don’t need high negative emotion to employ such speech. Like the rooster who crows “Cock-a-doodle-do,” their mantra seems to be “Any mood’ll do.” (Yes, I noticed the rooster used fowl language.) But what are the ramifications of peppering everyday conversations with swear words?
Language does change. There are naughty words in history that are acceptable today (like nasty, interestingly enough), and there are some historically common words that are taboo in modern times (I will neither confirm nor deny what those are). They can also vary among cultures: If I say “bloody rooster” in the US, it means we’re having him for dinner. In the UK, he wouldn’t come to dinner because I’ve just insulted him.
There has been a trend in this culture for people to swear more. I don’t know if they think it makes them appear independent and self-determining, but to me it makes them appear to have the vocabulary of a barnyard rooster.
Time for another confession: I will curse out loud during moments of high negative emotion (“There’s a %#*$ snake in the chicken house!”), or within certain parameters for humor (wait for it….).
It would seem that naughty words are kind of like Christmas, which comes only once a year. When used sparingly, they maintain the potency they’re meant to convey. But if they get used casually, they just become dull and plodding. Remember, Monday comes every week.
Any *#$@ questions?