Friday, December 28, 2007


Swearing. Second nature for some, highly distasteful for others, but for the broad majority of us, no big deal. None of us being chaste angels, I’m sure we all toss out a few choice words every now and then, depending on the situation.

Frankly, I’m no great fan of the 4-letter vocabulary. Wait, I didn’t say I abhor them like some puritan, or cringe every time I hear them being thrown about flippantly. Far from it. I myself have used a number of ‘ineffable expletives’ (as my English teacher would say), some very much a part of my everyday jargon. The argument against swearing, I know, is that it betrays sound culture, and nice manners. But what is the point of sounding as hoity-toity as that if it doesn’t express how you feel? I’m no drunken sailor when it comes to swearing, but if you are, I wouldn’t hold it against you.
That said, I must admit it’s a tad annoying when an entire conversation revolves around a few words; when every second word you hear is the same swear-word. Far from being offensive, one just comes across as being inarticulate.

As for swearing in writing, it strongly smacks of poor vocabulary more than anything else. Agreed, sometimes, it’s more fitting to use a single ‘unparliamentary’ word than a whole para of ranting. And it’s perfectly justified to vent occasionally by peppering your writing with some colorful words. But mostly, a passage full of the same few words inserted every-which way makes for pretty dull reading. Unimaginative at best, and offensive at worst. Guess it all boils down to context, and being able to express yourself.

And what is it with ‘swear words’ anyway?? They’re just as normal as any other words; they’re only as popular as they are cos of the taboo. Forbidden-fruit-tastes-sweetest all over again. Half the reason why cussing feels as good as it does when you’re in a rage is cos u know its taboo. Most people don’t even think about their meanings when they use them(forget the priceless gems who curse at the drop of a hat without knowing what they just said). In fact, if we were to simply make up some words, and taught them to kids and told them never to use them, why, we’d have a whole new swear dictionary! As far as I’m concerned, they are simply expressions of dissent, and nothing more. Their meanings only serve to give them the blessed tag of curse words. It is precisely for this reason that I can’t stand how some people find ‘thu’ particularly objectionable. I don’t see how it’s any worse than any other swear-word.

Perhaps the reason we no longer find so many of these swear words offensive is their overusage – they’ve become so commonplace that we treat them the same as any other word. Like they say, fuck aint a word, it’s a punctuation. And how normal it is to hear people(ok, I guess here, and everywhere else in this post, people = young people, say high school – college crowd, mostly) greet one another with these so-called curses. We simply respond without batting an eyelid, it’s that normal. So what does that say of us? Just that we think no more of the words than any other greeting, as simple as that.

Personally, I think ‘why the devil’ sounds a lot more creative than the so much more common ‘ytf’, but knowing that both intend to convey the same meaning, why object to either? And doesn’t ‘ a barmy old codger’ or ‘a worthless pile of bat droppings’ sound infinitely more innovative than, oh let’s say, ‘fucking sonavabitch’ ? (jkr \m/) And Captain Haddock, the drunkest sailor I know of, did have a large abuse-vocab, even if he was partial to a few choice expressions.

Ah well, to each their own, I guess. All said and done, filth-mouthed sailors will remain as they are, and really, why the f*** not?


fiddlesticks said...

ok, on reading the whole thing now, i seem to keep contradicting myself, to the point of 'what are you driving at exactly??'.. whatever.. my space, my take, even if its a little confused :P

Sudarshan J said...

Somehow, I feel Hindi swear words more tasteful (distasteful??).. I remember that in my school days, whenever I had to go behen ****, I used to find out whether he had a sister or not. If he did, I used to check myself.. If not, no holding back.. In campus, greetings usually start with reference to one's mom or sis.. Those times of Oooh-he-used-a-swear-word!! are long gone..
There have been times when I have tried not using them, trying to see if I can use any other word instead of fuck, but I always ended up with huge words like despicable, degrading, ignominious et al. Frankly, stopping a good game of football to waste your breath on such a huge word is inconvenient when you can be done with variations of fuck. And it also has such a great feeling when you say it out of frustration!!

Nice post!! Made me relive some happenings at school. Will write about them soon.

Oink said...

Cap Haddock FTW \m/

Oink said...

btw i JUST read this t-shirt Quote in the paper :
you never really learn to swear until you learn to drive

Vidya said...

swearin is ok when done once in a while when u wanna vent out frustration, otherwise, gets irritatin! hindi ones more than english ones.. but woodstock teaches one more then they need 2 kno.. sigh! n ya jkr ftw \m/ (:P oink)

Full Of Life said...

Ah the good ol swearing!! :D
Capt Haddock roxx so does Southpark (that ive begun to enjoy only recently :P)
Not good, not bad either. But part of life :D
nice one!
@oink: Hehe. Heard that one. V true. :P

Full Of Life said...

@vid : WS roxx \m/. Mainchat wud luk so useless without the usual mcs, bcs and the more recent AKB! :P

Vidya said...

yes akb lolest!!

fiddlesticks said...

akb reminds me of kbc!! him and swearing!! O.o

Anonymous said...

after reading dis, i remember d way we greet each other.....
another dimension of swearing is to get ppl closer :P..
or u swear only closer ones???? :P

fiddlesticks said...

ammaa, im glad you left this out of my already colorful testimonial