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26 June 2007 @ 01:25 pm
Thought for the day  
I see the avoidance of certain words to be nothing more than superstition, so to me swearing is the linguistic equivalent of opening an umbrella indoors or having twelve guests for dinner.

Some people will act as if you're doing something dreadfully wrong, even though your action is not inherently harmful.

It's just that, for some reason, there seems to be more people who are afraid of the word "fuck" than there are who are afraid of the number 13.
chifleychifley on June 26th, 2007 03:56 am (UTC)
I think that since some people get offended by words and some people don't it is everyone's own choice whether to take offense or not, so I don't bother not saying things just incase somebody might be offended.
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 04:34 am (UTC)
That's what I'm saying.

Another analogous example:

Burping out loud makes some people feel uncomfortable, and is considered by many to be "rude".

But, why? It doesn't hurt anyone. So, why should I care if it offends?
Robet Éivaayvah on June 26th, 2007 11:25 am (UTC)
Because sometimes it stinks?

Or perhaps for the same reason we're supposed to cover our mouth while coughing or yawning.
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 11:27 am (UTC)
Even when covering your mouth some people don't like audible burps.
Robet Éivaayvah on June 26th, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
Then burp louder just to annoy them.
Jessjess2903 on June 26th, 2007 05:46 am (UTC)
its more about manners than anything. its just a sign of respect I guess. Personally, I can tolerate most swear words, but I cannot stand words like cunt. That just sounds wrong. And the use of 'fuck' when refering to sex...I don't know, thats just me.
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 06:04 am (UTC)
It's easy to throw around words like "manners" and "respect", but what do they really mean?

How am I respecting you or anyone else by restricting my vocabulary?

The word "cunt" is, to be fair, often used in a mysogonistic way. Using it to describe a person, with negative connotations, is basically disrespecting that for which the word actually stands.

So, calling someone a cunt is disrespectful to the female anatomy, and by extension to females.

However, if you use the words in their correct context they aren't inherently disrespectful. Saying, "it's been ages since I've had a fuck", for example, is really just a simple statement of fact. It doesn't disrespect anyone.

Even saying, "you've got a lovely cunt" (in an intimate context) is perfectly respectful. The word itself is simply a good old Anglo-Saxon word. In fact, one could argue that referring to your lover's genitals with euphemistic language is far more disrespectful, because using a euphemism implies that something is dirty or otherwise taboo.

The other option is clinical language, but I can guarantee you that referring to a lover's "vagina", in an intimate moment, is something of a mood-killer.
Jessjess2903 on June 26th, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
I don't know its just me, I just think its a derogratory term. I'm refering to the genitals being called a cunt btw, not people, although thats not much better. I guess whenever I've heard it used on a person its been used in a joking way so I don't mind it so much. Cunt to be used to describe genitals is a different story though. I don't mind stuff like pussy or whatever, I just think cunt sounds wrong.
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 06:24 am (UTC)
It sounds wrong because you've been conditioned into believing it's a "bad word". You've been told time and again that it's dirty and impolite.

When the only reason it ever was considered dirty or impolite was simply because it referred to female genitalia.

This is the origin of all swear words - they are simply ordinary words that refer to taboo topics (scatological, sexual, racial or religious being the most common types of taboo topics). The topic is taboo, therefore the word itself becomes taboo.

I understand your aversion to the word, there is a very strong cultural imperative to maintain these sorts of taboos. I'm only trying to get you to think about why you don't like the word.
Jessjess2903 on June 26th, 2007 09:22 am (UTC)
No I honestly don't care about that, I just don't like it. You really believe that I'm that much of a prude? It just doesn't sound very nice to me...
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 10:21 am (UTC)
"I just don't like it" makes absolutely no sense, unless you go around saying you don't like words like "brick" and "cog" and other words that have no taboo associated with it.

You decided you don't like the sound of the word completely independent of the fact that your whole life you've been told it's a bad word?

Seems an odd coincidence to me.
Jessjess2903 on June 26th, 2007 10:35 am (UTC)
Maybe it is some sort of thing because I have grown up hearing its bad, but its just...not a nice sounding word anyway. In any case, I wouldn't like it said to me and I don't really know many other people who would.
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 10:48 am (UTC)
Sure, I'm just getting to the deeper psychological reasons why people don't like these words.

I'm not saying you should like them, or use them, or not get offended when they are said to you, it's just interesting to me how society helps to form our outlooks on such things.
Robet Éivaayvah on June 26th, 2007 11:44 am (UTC)
Ah... A topic that Jacob and I have covered before. XD

Cunt doesn't sound too dissimilar to "buck", "tuck", "bunt", "shunt", "gun", "cut". It's not really about the sound. The word "cunt" is a major focus of the feminist movement. Feminists have started trying to reclaim the word, because it is the only word that really means what people mean when they say it. "Pussy" obviously means something different (and to me it feels like a word for horny preteens), but "vagina" technically only refers to the actual orifice. Not to mention that it sounds a tad too medical.

Frankly, I don't feel that there's anything in my vocabulary for it that doesn't feel wrong. I think it'd be nice if the word could be reclaimed into "polite conversation".

And honestly, I do take some offence that "cunt" has gotten so singled out as the "ultimate rude word". So much negativity has been piled onto a body part that deserves absolutely none of it.

But this is all from a logical point of view.

The problem with the word "cunt" isn't about the word at all, or its meaning. The problem is that most (not all) of the people who use the word have little respect for women. It's association -- sort of like blaming all black people for that one time you were mugged by a black guy, except this is connected much more closely to personality.

I'm pretty sure that it's the "lack of respect for women" problem that gets to you. So I'd suggest trying not to take offence if it's used in a respectful manner by a respectful person.

It's probably easier than you think. After all, one thing I remember from TAFE is that it was much more offensive listening to Sheree (sp?) swear, simply because there was so much venom in her words.
Jessjess2903 on June 26th, 2007 12:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah you are right but thats kinda not that point, I guess it does have to do with the fact its never used by because that don't have any respect for women. I mean, I can see how Jacob would say but yeah, thats the only one that I don't like, I wouldn't say I take offense to it though, unless someone calls me that of course!
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 12:41 pm (UTC)
It's generally spelt Cherie, in case you really do care.
(Deleted comment)
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 11:26 am (UTC)
Actually non-sexual nudity is a great example of something that people really should get the hell over, more so than these words. It's a terrible shame that in out "enlightened" modern world, people still face legal action for showing certain parts of their body.

Obviously consideration of others is important, I'm really playing the devil's advocate here. I don't go around shouting "fuck" and "cunt" at children and old people. Also, context is key as well. I know that I have a great capacity to completely avoid swearing in certain contexts (in certain workplaces, when talking to my Nanna, etc), and I don't even really think about it all that much, it just comes naturally to not say fuck to Nanna.

Even though I am not offended by swearing, and do swear a fair bit myself, I am often surprised at how many people seem to lack this in-built filter and seem not to realise that they are swearing in an inappropriate setting.
Jessjess2903 on June 26th, 2007 12:07 pm (UTC)
Lee Davis-Thalbournekirby1024 on June 26th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC)
It is quite true - the tabooness of a given word is entirely determined by the person's given social training, thus it has no objective, rational basis for it's existence. Thus, you're not doing anything inherently harmful by uttering it.

But then, even purely arbitrary social phenomenon, with no objective, rational bases for their existence, still exist. It is your choice to utter whatever the damn hell you want, but the fact that there's no reasonable basis for taking offense at the word isn't going to stop the fact that it's still a taboo word to a significant proportion of the English-speaking world. And, you know, giving offense to people will still have social consequences (which are just as real as any other type of consequence).

But meh. I suspect you already know this, since you're really railing at the social conditions already present rather than any real unreality of the reaction. But I just spent precious minutes of my time typing this out, and by god I'm going to post it!
Jacobyak_boy on June 26th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)
Indeed. See my response to insomnius above.