I have been castigated all my life by certain people for my choices of language and continue to be, even today. What’s worse is that in certain social situations the use of a swear word has become ignominious, leading to the castigation I speak of and perhaps even worse than this; people apologising on your behalf! We need to clear the air here and eradicate this disingenuous approach towards ‘bad language’. We also need to establish what constitutes ‘bad language’ properly.
I don’t believe that it is ‘unacceptable’ to use certain words because they are wrong in themselves, which is what we have all learned from an early age- being taught this by our parents and teachers. That approach is far too deontological for my liking (who do these people think they are, Kant?). The strength or acceptability of somebody’s language should be in no way determined by whether or not they choose to use curse-words, it depends entirely on the way they speak generally and the way they choose to include these words in their sentences. It is possible to be the proponent of extremely bad language without swearing, and extremely good language whilst swearing. Obviously.
It is perhaps ironic how those who admonish the use of bad language and swear words are the ones who have elevated those words to their current status and made them extremely desirable words to use. Swear words have a gravity to them. Fuck is the word I use the most. It is a very charged word, like monster, or smack, or coke, or fire (All these words have so much of what I like to call a charge that they get taken for the purpose of multiple meanings, mostly to very shall we say- extravagant things). One finds that short, sharp syllables are perfect for a devastating little charge.
Fuck doesn’t ever get used referring to its actual meaning. I feel that all swear words, because they are swear words have deviated from their literal meanings and their importance is now only really due to their power and their charge. I don’t like to use these words aggressively, so I use them largely whilst attempting to be humourous, or being typically sardonic and realistic in the English way, during reflections on instances which are far from ideal- shall we say. Swearing just helps that. Look at this use by David Mitchell, for example. Swearing makes things funny. In a way it’s deeply saddening that most people don’t like or get this humour, and therefore castigate it and as a result are intimidated by it. These are most likely the kind of people who watch stuff like The Big Bang Theory. So at this point I cease to care, really…
I know where the anti-swearing brigade is coming from sometimes- these words get a bad name. You go to hellish places like McDonalds or Sileby and you hear swear words being used in a hideous and intimidating fashion by people who have frightful voices, frightful faces and frightful vocabularies. Morning swearing in particular can be too much and have the power to disturb the ever strove-for morning peace. The words are just too conspicuous sometimes and it can be advisable to avoid using them for the purposes of convenience. Yes. Used in certain environments they can sometimes they stand out and deflect the conversation away from its intended premise. But this is where, your meaning has to supersede the swearing. When best used, swearing amplifies the meaning and adds to the proposition or idea being presented. It is the only language that can truly be used to highlight the absurdity of things, when they are truly, truly absurd.
I remember the day when I learned a word, in year 5 at lunch time. Some big guy called Harry told me of the existence of a superior swear word, one swear word to rule them all. I instantly bothered and bothered him to learn what it was and eventually he gave in and revealed it to me. The word was cump. I have a vivid memory of learning the word cump but obviously I soon learned that this was not the word I had been looking for. There could be three possibilities for this: I either misheard the word, big Harry thought the word was actually cump, or most likely- Big Harry knew what the word actually was and decided to give me an incorrect variation; possibly to protect me from the overpowering vulgarity, possibly for humorous purposes.
Which brings me to the c-word. I still often hear extreme hostility towards this word and again I get why. But it is the same with all swear words really, it only emanates its true meaning if you use it in that way or hear it in that way. It’s the same with fuck- which again I rarely use it in its proper context. When cunt became the one swear word to rule them all, it officially acquired an entirely different meaning altogether. I think we can all be quite certain that if this word was used to mean its true meaning, it would be too conspicuous to ignore and its use would become unbearable. Some guy would say something, then the use of the the one swear word to rule them all would completely trump everything else he was saying, deflecting his true meaning and terminating the development of the conversation, implanting other irrelevant images and associations within the minds of his listeners. God forbid this guy would be trying to say something of importance, in a combat situation, perhaps (Super Hans plagiarism acknowledged). So in this instance, c word-not practical, c word-not good.
But a defense of the occasional use of the c-word- there are certain people who when one describes I would suggest it would be an offence to call anything other than a cunt. To describe Rupert Murdoch, Kanye West, that horrible landlord who threatens to throw you out of your property because you sent him an email asking for a bed in stead of a dirty jagged metal mattress, Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly, Tony Blair, Bush, David Cameron, Katie Hopkins or Mother Teresa for example. What words would you consider ascribing to them if not the C-bomb? The C is all these people deserve.
We could take a mildly inventive approach and beginning with the non-scatological and clean, non-swear words, we might call these horrible people;
Idiot, jerk, cow, git, twit, cretin, louse, pig, prat, rat, scumbag, tool, buffoon.
These words taking you back to your old geography teacher perhaps? I bet he called you them a few times, unless you were especially enthusiastic about map-reading. Although, to be honest, the geography teachers I had had some serious wrath backed up, they were pretty uncrossable. You could tell they swear all the time in private, use these amusing words as substitutes when hurling abuse at sweaty little adolescents, often achieving humorous value. If there is anything in this blog worth learning, it is not to fuck with a geography teacher.
Personally I would call someone a louse if I could remember to. I could maybe even use the word prat if I wanted to. Occasionally I think of a really amusing non- curse word to call people but then I often forget what word I have tried to remember… forever. Goblin in pretty good. Or something fungus related? I wouldn’t want to be considered fungus. Frog spawn is a good term to describe someone, but I’d be careful not to pluralise someone by accident, especially a twat. Maybe one day we might be creative and innovative enough to use non curse-words instead of expletives, but we shouldn’t hold our breath because expletives are both convenient and effective.
The true Bad Language that needs to be addressed here and possibly criticized is the uniform robot language that most people use. Whenever one expresses them self in any kind of inventive way, not just through language, the proponents of the true bad language are bewildered and call you ‘weird’ because they are so accustomed to absolutely everything in their life being dull and familiar. They don’t try and understand anything, and only value people of a certain narrow-minded type; the only people they actively choose to seek in their lives. If ever there was a Utopian society on Earth these people would focus on addressing their narrow-minded approaches to language before castigating others for their choices. In Utopia, instead of telling people off for swearing, people would be told off for not being expressive enough and using shit words. I won’t make a list of all those words that most people say all the time, but they’re crap and you will probably know exactly what they are when you come across them. Even when used ‘ironically’ they are still shit, because we know that they’re actually the only words they know. They don’t ever pull anything better out of the bag.
Getting towards the end of this, I believe that language has an enormous power to define an individual. You can judge someone on their choice of language. Shit people use shit words. Shit people are afraid of using words that other people do not yet use. So avoiding the use of expletives is not the most important thing. Expression is the most important thing.
Great people create their own words, bring old words back into play, mix things up. We are all different, only some people are the same and therefore rely on talking the same crap, the same crap that other people use. Learn to love words. You say them every day, don’t be a boring mollusc, retreating to the slimes of mediocrity. Express yourself. Language is an excellent opportunity to do so. Combine words that have not yet been combined. Words that juxtapose one another like acid and alkali. Is it purple or is it red? You decide. Fucking be litmus paper. You only get one life.
If you’re still a castigator after hearing my views on the matter, why not turn to Stephen Fry? Who often deconstructs stupidity, much like a dreadfully ergonomic spanner might deconstruct a poorly made Apollo mountain bike.
(But you have to be careful. I did an audition for Eggheads over the phone and had to answer a series of quiz questions. When I didn’t know the answers I said on a couple of questions “Oh fucking hell” inadvertently. He didn’t react to it over the phone but unsurprisingly, we didn’t get on the show and we were left bitterly disappointed. The regret still plagues me to this day…)