Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Who the hell decides what some damn words are swear words, profanity and/or socially unacceptable? And when do they become common, decent and okay to air on national television?

My daughter came home from kindergarten, upset that someone in her class has used the "f" word - which turned out to be "fatso." In our house, "stupid" or "dumb" were forbidden words because of our learning-disabled child.

So why is "damn" now okay on prime time? When were alternative words for manure or feces demeaned okay?

And yet... why is "f***" profane? Does anyone actually know where the word originated? I've heard quite a few theories - abbreviation for "forbidden unauthorized carnal knowledge" in naval logs - from the German word for intercourse and yes, it seems to always have something to do with illicit sex.

But it also means much the same as screw, cheat... and all of those words are okay.

This was all prompted by my son asking me not to use the word "crap." We talked about it some - again, another word for body waste, but one acceptable even in Mormon circles. "Flip" - another Mormon cuss word.

Christ is quoted as saying "Swear not at all... but let your communication be, Yes, yes: Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than there cometh of evil."

When does our language change from descriptive to profane? Can anyone logically and rationally outline this for me? I honestly would like to know.


Lisa said...

You know, I've always wondered that myself! If you find out, let us know.

Oh, and on the word 'flip'- in St. George we were friends with a (member) family with the last name 'Flippen'. Once when the missionaries were at their house for dinner one elder was saying the blessing. He could NOT stop laughing after he prayed "Please bless the Flippen family . . . ".

Mormor said...

Here's an answer I've heard before quoted from a source online. Swear words are usually normal everyday words until some snob comes along!

What makes anything a curse word at all?

Most of our "bad words" were actually just part of the every day lexicon of the Saxons. Before modern English evolved, the language was splintered into many different dialects in what is now England. The government needed an official dialect so everyone within the government could understand everyone else and decided on Norman English, or the Queens English, as it's called.

So to use Saxon words was seen as "low class"


Saxon: Eat
Norman: Dine

Saxon: Sweat
Norman: Perspire

Saxon: Piss
Norman: Urinate

Saxon: Sh!t
Norman: Defecate

Saxon: F*** from the Old German word to....
Norman: Fornicate

You get the picture?

Harmony said...

Ah, hell if I know.