Historic Article by Anne DeBondt – first published in 2005

I am curious about the impact swearing has on some people. And I wonder who governs what is or isn’t considered a swear word. For the most part, I deem language, bad or otherwise, to be a personal choice similar to religion, politics and vegetarianism. But some meddlesome folk are just hell bent on ridding the world of the “F” word! Such folk might find it easier to rid the world of starvation!

And youths of today are being punished with classical music – and it’s about time! Lord knows we adults have had to put up with the vulgar sounds of Gangsta Rap for long enough!

The Meaning of Swearing

Image: Cartman Swearing

For those of you who know me or read my stuff often, it will come as no surprise that I have chosen to write about the growing appeal to Stop Swearing in the Workplace. And for those few who don’t know me or haven’t bothered to read my introduction – you might want to stop reading now – rumour has it that I am quite the potty mouth (I started that rumour)

What exactly is swearing? I know, I know, god damn, the “F” word, yadda yadda yadda. But who determines that both or either is swearing? Is it merely taking God’s name in vain? Is it using animal references? Is it the intent of the word that offends people? Because if that’s the case, it isn’t swearing if you don’t believe in God. And simply changing a vowel or two won’t alter what I suggest you do with a particular apparatus should I work myself into a lather about something. And big deal, so a dog or two have had their pedigree brought into question. I’m pretty sure the canine population of Great Britain will survive the insult!

Why don’t the nervous Nells in the work force who seem hell bent on Disney-fying the entire world, dumbing us all down to nursery-speak, produce a swear jar instead of condemning us four-letter-word freaks to a life of mundane prose?

Offending potty mouths could put a pound in the kitty for every transgression they commit and at the end of each month the employees could decide what to do with the ill-gotten-gains. Although, I fear if I ever worked in an office, I’d need a monthly subscription to the jar and quite possibly finish up costing myself more to work than stay at home! But at least there’d be a profit from my suggestion that a colleague take a flying s**t at the moon!

Or what about a no swearing area similar to a no smoking area? This way fragile souls could take respite from cigarette smoke and foul language. Hell, that’s gotta be a good thing, right?

And since we hear words such as ass, bitch (even son of a bitch) and damn on primetime television these days, are those words still considered to be swearing? I mean, if Ross from “Friends” can say ass to an audience of billions, why can’t I say it in front of a handful of people without risking being thrown out of the office?

At best this movement towards verbal propriety will only stave off today’s variety of distasteful words. In future there will be an additional glut of phrases, expressions and wordage of the like we can only imagine. It would be far more effective if some folk just accepted that not everyone sees life through rose coloured glasses – some of us prefer a darker shade!

Classical Distraction

Image: P Diddy

This latest ploy to disperse disorderly youths from the high street by playing classical music loudly over speakers is an odd approach.

It is pleasing to think that yobs of today are as disgusted by Chopin as I am P Diddy!

On the one hand, anything that gets yobs to go home and stop polluting public areas with their idea of senseless “fun” is a good thing. On the other hand is it really wise to use Beethoven, Bach or Mozart as a deterrent? Isn’t that sending the wrong message?

I mean, I was never all that interested in classical music as a youth – despite that my youth was so long ago that Beethoven could have been a school chum! But nevertheless I still had appreciation for such airs and arias. Having symphonic music used as a repellent might have caused me to form a lifelong loathing instead of growing to prefer it.

Although, despite the obvious side effects, it is pleasing to think that yobs of today are as disgusted by Chopin as I am P Diddy!

Original comments regarding this article:

  1. Lester Pete said on Thursday 25 Aug, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    The Meaning of Swearing
    A person’s belief in a chosen diety is not what dictates whether or not something is a swear word. It is a person’s response that determines this. I say people need to chill instead of waiting with baited breath for the first opportunity to become offended. Mercy me.

    I worked many years with a fellow who used the “F” word more often than the rest of us use the word “the” and yet very few people found him offensive.

    I have come to the conclusion that words aren’t profane, people are!

  2. Anne de Bondt said on Wednesday 24 Aug, 2005 at 9:45 pm

    Oh… and I thought I was a potty mouth! Watching the channel 4 clip of celebrities swearing was hilarious. Far from being offensive it gave me the best laugh I’ve had all week – and this has been a pretty funny week! Thanks Karl.
    P.S. I even add a few new ones to the repertoire!

  3. Karl Bedingfield said on Wednesday 24 Aug, 2005 at 8:50 pm

    The Meaning of Swearing
    Great article Anne, although I rarely swear I am interested in the origins of swear-words. I came across this excellent website that answered my questions on the origins and usage of British swear-words (website here).

    It is interesting to note the ‘American’ words such as ‘Son Of A Bitch’ and ‘God Damn’ are not that offensive to us Brits. We would more than likely use such endearing terms as, ‘Wanker’, C**t, Tw*t and so on. I know ‘wanker’ is not that well understood in the USA, Americans use the word ‘fanny’ as a reference to the backside where us Brits use that as a derogatory term for vagina.

    I have added an advert for Channel 4 (not sure if it was ever screened) that has celebrities saying their favourite swear-words. You can view it here – If you are easily offended do not view the movie!

    Classical Distraction
    I should be careful playing classical music like Mozart to the teenagers of today, look what happened in ‘A Clockwork Orange’!

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