Monday, 16 November 2009

Oi! Mind Yer Language!

This blog contains foul swear words. Anyone of a nervous disposition should turn off their PC’s now. If you have small children in the room, please return them to their cages immediately. The blog owner takes no responsibly if exposure to these horrendous words turns you into a knife carrying psycho, who likes nothing better than to stalk the streets at night, terrorizing little old ladies.

You have been warned………….   

Anyone that knows me well can confirm that my language is always on the fruity side. I do swear an awful lot. I have refrained from doing it on here, mainly because, like anal bleaching, I know it’s not to everyone's taste. So on my blog I am quite chaste and lovely, in real life, my language is more like an old dock worker who has just stubbed his toe on a rather large anchor. Fairly colourful for most of the duration. But on this blog, I will always remain a fairly profanity free person (the odd one might slip out though). 

I don’t have a problem with people that swear, but also have no issue with people that take offence to it as well. Horses for courses, each to their own, and any other well worn simile you can think of. It is a topic that divides an awful lot of people, but wherever you stand on it, that's fine with me.

The use of swearing does fascinate me though. The origins, the correct usage, the fact that most of them seem to emanate from the genital region, and nearly always involves some form of sexual act or bodily function. I have often wondered where these words come from and what donates their offensiveness? Who chooses that certain words are wrong? Why can I not say c*ck at a wedding? Stuff like that?

To give a brief rundown of my own background: My Dad’s family were all from Ireland, they moved over to the UK where he met my Mum, his family then moved over to the USA, while he stayed with my Mum and (thankfully for me) married her. So growing up, my family consisted of my parents, my Nan and Granddad, and my Uncle (all from my Mum’s side).

Now my little family basically all originated from the East End of London (apart from my Dad, who was Irish- I do hope your keeping up?), and what that means is that colourful language was in the background all throughout my childhood. Now I do hope that doesn’t raise any eyebrows, because that doesn’t mean I wasn’t brought up correctly, and that certainly doesn’t mean that my parents were in anyway undereducated folk. My Mum was fiercely intelligent, spoke fluent German, and installed in me a love of books that I am grateful for to this very day. My Dad, whilst freely admitting that he wasn’t a literary giant, had a knack with anything technical that could sometimes take your breath away. They were good people who raised me well. I knew good from bad. I knew how to be a decent person. And I knew that certain words were off limits from a very young age. That part I can’t underline enough.

Even so, due to the family background and the area that I lived in, swearing was a part of everyday life. I remember family get togethers, parties, neighbours popping over, Christmases and birthdays, all filled with fun, laughter, and good natured leg pulling, all done with a liberal sprinkling of swearing (and I'm pretty sure that for most of us, the first time we ever hear any swearing is when our fathers attempt any form of DIY and it goes horribly wrong).

And I loved it. It was never malicious, it was always followed by a great big burst of laughter, and it actually provoked a sense of community in some strange way, bizarre as that might sound. It was just part of the norm for me. I knew these words were off bounds, but I also knew that in the context my family and their friends used them, they were always harmless.

Now, when I started to grow up and began to understand these words I was hearing had a touch of taboo about them, the next natural progression was to start using them amongst my friends. And they were all doing it as well, it wasn't just me. We were only children, bear that in mind. There could be an argument that if I hadn’t been exposed to them as I was growing up, then maybe I wouldn’t use them now? But if it wasn’t at home that I might have heard these words, then it certainly would have been somewhere else. It was unavoidable. Swearing is all around us, and there is no possible way to avoid it.

So we would end up dropping in a sh*t and a f*ck into our conversations, and then snigger like the little school boys we were. But we would only do it amongst each other, for we knew that to use them with an adult would certainly mean instant death.

It wasn’t like I was walking into my home, saying “Hello Mum, where's my b*stard tea?”

No, I was sensible. I knew these words should only be used in certain social situations. And this is a mindset that has stayed with me well into adult life. 

I know when it is socially acceptable to swear (Hello Dave, you massive t*sspot), and when it’s not socially acceptable to swear (More f*cking tea, Vicar?). It is a useful system that works rather well, and has saved me from embarrassing the right people at the wrong time.

Now onto the words themselves. And this is where it may get a little sweary…er?

So if bad language is not your bag, once again, I totally understand, and think nothing less of you if you have no desire to read on, just as long as you think nothing less of me for writing about them? I hope that's a fair compromise? Let’s shake on it just to be sure?

8)Big fat twatty bottom.

Now obviously these are not all the swear words in the world, but merely the building blocks for other swear words to rest upon. So you can have additions to any of the above: motherf*cker, thunderc*nt, massively big fat twatty bottom, and make any combination up as you see fit. The more inventive the swear word, the more impact it has.

Now to me, there are two kinds of swear word. Passive and non-passive. You can say any of the above in many different ways, to many different people.

You can use them in an aggressive way if your aim is to attack somebody, say them with real venom and meaning, but you can also use them in a comfortable way, if used towards a friend who is used to such language and returns fire in a similar manner. 

Different countries use different swear words as well. Motherf*cker is predominately a US word, where B*llocks is solely a UK one. I would imagine Motherless son of a six nippled dog can be used in many Middle Eastern countries, where in Ireland, if you get called a Tuilli, you obviously have upset someone.

My own personal usage? I drop the F-bomb in most of my sentences, but only as long as I am in the right surroundings. Sh*t gets used quite a lot as well. And then we have the taboo one. The biggy, if you will?


If swearing has somewhat lost its ability to shock over time, this one word still divides opinion on a massive scale. To some, it’s the worst word you can ever use, to others; it’s just a word, nothing more, nothing less.

To see it used in films and TV shows can still make you pause for a second, and think: Hang on, did I just hear that? I always remember the first time I ever heard it in a film. It was in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and I must have been about ten, watching it in my bedroom late one night where it was playing on BBC1. I had never heard that word before and stupidly asked my Dad what it was the next day. My Nan and Granddad were round to visit my Mum as well, and you could hear all four jaws hit the ground as they looked at me in shock. I then got chased round the room with a rolled up newspaper. Needless to say, there was plenty of discussion about how maybe I shouldn’t have a TV in my room……  

So, it’s a shocking word to quite a few people.

Do I use it?

Well, yes, I have to admit, I do. But I think this is also a UK thing as well. Over the last 10-15 years, I think to most UK residents, the overuse of this word, like any word does, has made us a little desensitised to the shock value. I use it with my friends; we are often calling each other by certain swearwords, this being one of them. Now it has no meaning. We could just be calling each other Hosepipes and it would still probably have the same effect.

Does it make me uneducated? I don’t think so. Does it make me unimaginative? Well, if I was just swearing to look big, or to look clever, maybe? But if I put it into a context of an amusing insult, a game of brinkmanship where the recipient also has an expletive laden comeback as well, then maybe not? It’s just something I do. I don’t tend to judge others, and I’d hope the same would be given in return. I’m a good person, who can sometimes use the word C*nt in a sentence. But only around others that are used to it. I would never use any of these words around children, but I also know that they would probably have heard most of them anyway. As with most things, there is a time and a place.

It is still however, a fairly strong word to use. I remember reading a film magazine article that Brad Pitt gave in about 2000. He was over here in the UK, filming for a movie called Snatch. In it, he remarked how the cast and crew would go around, calling each other C*nt all the time.  At first he was shocked, it not being a word commonly used in the US, but after time, he felt comfortable enough to use it as well. And I suppose that's the defining matter with all of the above, and maybe the vague point that I may have been fumbling to grasp with this post.

It’s all to do with surroundings and context. I would never be offended by swearing, but I also would totally get it if somebody hated the use of bad language as well. It’s all to do with who you are, what your background is, and where your social barometer lays.

I hope this post hasn’t caused any offence, as that certainly wasn’t my intention. And I also hope that any opinion of me hasn’t suddenly decreased now that you all know I’m a foul mouthed misanthrope. You see, I swear, therefore, I am.

And if it’s good enough for Brad Pitt, then it’s good enough for me.

The massive C*nt……..


JenJen said...

I'm totally fucking offended, dipshit.

Gave you a shoutout on my blog, you know, the one you never visit anymore.

Must be because I called you crankypants.

Alice in Wonderland said...

Totally agree with you here Dan. I was brought up in a household that no matter what, bad language was frowned on all the time! Although I had heard some of the workers use it, swearing in front of children was just not the done thing! Of course, I used to wonder about these words that I had read, and used to talk about them with my friends, but we saw nothing really wrong with them, and used them in their proper context, ie; if someone had really p***ed us off, then that was a reason to swear out loud!
But most of these words are Olde English anyway, that does it really matter?
Tosspot, you never visit my effing site ant more either!

WhisperingWriter said...

I'm used to swearing.

My husband has a potty mouth. I have one if I'm upset. People know when I'm angry when I drop the f-bomb.

scarlethue said...

I cuss like a sailor as well, without even thinking about it. I suppose it's not really lady like, but whatever. I call my cat "motherf*cker" like it's her name. I try to keep it off the blog too, though, unless it's needed.

Miss OverThinker said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that it's all about context and surroundings.. I grew up in India where swearing is really frowned up, like really, so all through my childhood and early teenage years I had never even heard one swear word in my language..
having been in Canada for over a decade I swear like a sailor - more than I should.. but if you ask me to swear in my own language - I still couldn't do that..

UberGrumpy said...

You can't say 'c*ck' at a wedding because that's way too hard to say when you're drunk. Try 'cock' instead.

Eva Gallant said...

Context and surrounding are definitely key!

Midnitefyrfly said...

I've never really been offended by foul language. I was raised with my grandparents with "do as I say, not as I do" discipline and so I knew I couldn't say "grown up words" and never did in their presence out of respect. Then I met my husband's grandma and she has the foulest mouth I have ever heard and she is 80. Makes me feel like an amateur.

hope said...

The only time my beloved Dad ever swore was when he worked on the family car..seems I was always standing there when he did. He swore me to secrecy and Mom never knew. :)

You're right, country and context mean a lot. I've asked the British Wives Club ladies [those who won't smack me with a rolled up newspaper] the meaning of a couple of words which came up in, say a movie. They smile and then we trade stories. In the South, "shag" is a dance...for them too, if you're talking about dancing in the sheets. :)

The funniest one I ever came across had to do with my hometown. We're named after a Revolutionary War general, whose nickname was "The Fighting Gamecock"... a "sport" which was legal at the time. Both my high school and university were known as "The Home of the Fighting Gamecocks" , with this proud, strutting rooster as the mascot.

Well you know how mascot stuff tend to shorten it. I had a guy from "up North" say to me in class, "I thought all you southerners were religious and uptight but you're blatantly proud of your manhood." When I looked confused, he pointed at a bumper sticker.

Yep, it said, "Go 'Cocks!"

Susan at Stony River said...

Dan I had to laugh to see all those stars; those aren't even swear words any more in Ireland I think.

We have the loveliest neighbour, she's about sixty and goes to Mass every single day. Then she'll move her cows from one field to the next while beating the shit out of them all with a stick, shouting "Git the fuck outta there, ye aul' cunt all o' ye's, feckin' bastards---" etc etc etc

....all of course with her tidy dress and wee kerchief and men's wellies. City people don't know what they're feckin' missing, sure they don't.

Jean said...

I f*ucking LOVED this post! I too swear like a sailor and can completely relate. Thanks for the laugh and the great read!

thatgalkiki said...

There's nothing like a good Muther-f**er to make my day. And blogs like this. Reminds me of George Carlin. :)

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with swearing as long as it's inventive. Some people, every third word is 'fuck' or a variant and it just makes me think they're moronic.

And I'm a touch anti-moron, if I'm honest. So I tend to tune them out.

Yourself excluded, obviously.

Kim Ayres said...

I have been through various times of using swearwords as punctuation, but as I have kids and my wife very very rarely swears, it's dropped off to a minute amount.

And that means the swear words really have the effect I need them to have. When I am upset enough to use one, it has the valve-releasing effect required.

When even c*nt is used everyday, what do you scream when you really need to swear?

However, I still do my damnedest not to swear in front of the kids. Even the stubbed toe has me leaping around with cleanched teeth yelling "NUTS! OH SHHHH...Nuts oh nuts oh nuts..."

Lorenza said...

Come on Dan! That is only "mastering" the English language....
Well done, you are still a gentleman

Judearoo said...

Good point mate. Funny thinking is that words we're appalled by now were once used liberally. Shakespeare dropped the c-word on several occasions.

By the way, 'Tuilli'? Am Irish born and bread and Ive never heard of this, pray fill me in (you can whisper if its too terrible ;) )

Fe said...

I used to have quite the potty-mouth, so I'm pretty desensitised to cussing. But if the right word is used in the right situation, it can be a little offesive to me. I totally agree with you though. I don't blame people for being offended, but I'm not.

Dan. said...

JenJen- Thanks for the shout out, but please, mind your language.

Alice- Glad you agree. But just because I wrote about swearing doesn't give you and JenJen free reign to swear at me! Bitches.

WW- For some reason I can’t imagine you swearing?

Scarlethue- A cat called motherf*cker? That so pleases me....

Miss over thinker- Indian swear words? That could be worth looking in to. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Nice to meet you.

Ubergrumpy- Firstly, great name. Secondly, those asterisks could be a problem.

Eva- Then we agree! Let’s pour some wine to celebrate?

Midnitefyrfly- My Nan was the same. I think once you get to a certain age, you just don’t care anymore?

Hope- I actually LOL'ed at that (and I never lol because that’s lame) Go cocks.

Susan- Damn, I LOL'ed again. I can just picture her doing that as well.

Jean- You are more than welcome (and I see you are new as well, so, hello! Hope you are well?)

thatgalkiki- Is that the famous "Ten things you can’t say on TV" sketch? I know of Carlin, but he isn't that well known over here. Bit like Lenny Bruce.

Matt- You are blogger royalty. I would never offend you, ma'am.

Kim- I actually find when angry, I tend to make up my own swear words. Can’t help it. I would share them, but I feel I have offended enough.

Lorenza- If you learn a foreign language, the first thing you always want to know is the swear words.

Judearoo- And who am I to argue with the Bard? And it means arsehole matey.

Fe- And I agree with you as well mate. Thank you for stopping over and taking the time to comment. Feel free to drop over again.

William said...

Excellent ~ the Art of Vulgarity ~ hugely underrated and primarily underexplored...