And the Question of the Week is…
This week’s question is in honor of George Carlin.
What words do you, personally, find offensive?
Ah, an easy one for me. The F-bomb (and all its variants), and I’m not really a fan of most of the others. Since I stopped working in a church, I use dammit more often and rarely/occasionally b*tch or sh*t, but I still like my tried and true “crap,” “darnit,” and “freakin'”. Oh, and I detest the f-word that refers to people who are homosexual, all variants of it; don’t know what it is about it, but I’ve always found it offensive. What people don’t always understand is that it’s not that I don’t say those words, it’s that I don’t think them either. When I say something is “freakin’ annoying,” my actual thoughts are not that something is “f*ing annoying,” but “freakin’ annoying.” I have about… 20 years of mentally training myself to not be able to say those words or even think them, so I just don’t. Yes, they pop into my head every once in a while, especially when I’ve been around someone who uses them prolifically or have watched a movie where every-other-word is offensive, but that effect fades after about 24 hours.
And to be honest, I’d be perfectly happy if I never had to hear the f-bomb ever again in my life. Ever. Some people know this about me and choose to not use those words around me ( and specifically come to mind) and even occasionally apologize when using them in my presence. It’s a small courtesy I appreciate, but don’t expect. Also, my language is workplace appropriate, which comes in handy since I… work, in a … workplace. Yeah. There have been articles I’ve read sometime in the last… 6 months or so that talk about how swearing is inappropriate in the workplace. That may not be true in every workplace, but it certainly is in mine.
And I know plenty of people who think swearing isn’t a big deal and those words don’t mean anything, but they do. Language is a social construct that is agreed upon by everyone together what each word means symbolically. And beyond that, communication itself is a two-way process that involves the speaker saying something and the listener interpreting what the speaker meant, all of which is confused by language, gestures, posturing, the relationship of the people, etc. Language is a part of that communication, and I learned in college (in a class called “Communicating to Adolescents,” which was basically Speech 201 since we’d all had to take Speech 101 already) that it is your responsibility as the speaker to communicate what you mean to your listener, and if your listener misunderstands what you are saying, you have to take some (note that I said some and not all) responsibility for that. So knowing your listener and how they’re going to interpret the words you use is a big deal.
So yes, my external vocabulary is almost entirely acceptable to use around and in a church, but so is my internal vocabulary. Why? Because when it gets down to it, I don’t like those words and I don’t think they’re necessary. If you’re frustrated, why not just say so? Quite frankly, using epithets like “for the love of all that is good in the universe,” and “mother of pearl” and “ugly monkey butts” is a lot more fun and expressive, and if I’m really frustrated, it can kinda take the edge off that because what I’ve ended up saying is kinda funny.
That being said, if one of my aforetomentioned offensive words actually comes out of my mouth, be wary, because I’m that upset and you should probably tread carefully.
I just read the other comments to this question (on Snarkland) and have to add that I agree that the N words referring to people of a certain skin color (since I’ve recently been studying Anthropology and learned, as I suspected, that race doesn’t actually exist) is horribly offensive, as is taking the Lord’s name in vain. And swearing around kids is a no-no (and by “around kids” I mean anywhere that might possibly contain children under the age of… 12 who can year your voice, which probably extends in a much larger radius of your person than you think it does because voices carry and people talk louder than they think, and if their parents are present and you swear I think you better be prepared for their wrath because they may just not want their kids to hear words like that, and before you say it, no, I don’t think they should have to keep their kids out of all public situations just to avoid your potty mouth). So you’ve been warned, if you swear around my as-of-yet-unconceived, unborn children, I’ll hurt you.