"Bad" words
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01-04-2016, 10:12 PM
"Bad" words
Just wondering if anybody had any theories beyond my ideas on this topic.
Even after I left the church, I refused to swear or use foul language in everyday life. I don't think I intentionally cussed until I had been living my own life for over a year. Something about it just felt "wrong" for me...I had no real objections to it for other people, it just wasn't something I was comfortable doing.
Similarly, my (very religious) mother finds swearing to be one of the most reprehensible things possible...or at least she acts that way. She will purposely avoid a movie or TV show if it has too much bad language (apart from any other concerns). I've tried to talk to her about it, but she just says that she's "very sensitive" and when she hears bad language it literally hurts her, in a physical sense.
Why is this the case? Why do some words hold so much more power than others, regardless of the way that they are used? It's all just different combinations of letters. How do they hold such moral and ethical power?
My ideas are roughly in two categories:
First is the broader idea that language is a social construct. If we're conditioned as a group to think of something as either positive or negative, then it will remain that way until the conditioning is reversed. Words are the same way: if we're told that "fuck" and "shit" are bad things to say or hear, we will shy away from them if we're trying to fit in to the rules of the moral majority. But this doesn't explain the root of the phenomenon. Why THESE words specifically? (Why is "fuck" worse that "fornicate"? Why is "shit" worse than "feces" or even "crap"?)
That's where my second theory comes into play, that of intention. Often when these words are used, they're meant to have an effect that goes beyond the word itself. I think this is the most obvious when it comes to racial slurs, but it can apply to pretty much any situation. Many times people swear when they're angry, or when they're trying to fight against the rules that society has out into place (regarding language directly, but often regarding larger issues as well). But this isn't always the case. Is it just a sort of conditioned response to associate these words with these emotions/intentions, regardless of whether or not those are present at the time?
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01-04-2016, 10:21 PM
RE: "Bad" words
I was in the Navy. I don't think we had any bad words.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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01-04-2016, 10:25 PM
RE: "Bad" words
(01-04-2016 10:21 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I was in the Navy. I don't think we had any bad words.

Hell, do you even have any good words? Or do you only pull those out on special occasions? Tongue

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01-04-2016, 10:29 PM
RE: "Bad" words
(01-04-2016 10:25 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(01-04-2016 10:21 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I was in the Navy. I don't think we had any bad words.

Hell, do you even have any good words? Or do you only pull those out on special occasions? Tongue

"YES SIR!" and "NO SIR!"

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01-04-2016, 11:02 PM (This post was last modified: 02-04-2016 01:36 AM by DLJ.)
RE: "Bad" words
Ooooh! Spooky! I was just having this conversation in my head.

I dropped the F-bomb in Pakistan this week and a lady in the group I was chatting with looked shocked.

I said "Ooops. Am I not allowed to say that here? Sorry" (not actually sorry but I've picked up the reflex from my Canada trip).

She said sternly, "You should be."

I thought to myself "I'm not".

I agree with your analysis. And I'll pick up on your wider point:
Quote:(regarding language directly, but often regarding larger issues as well)

Here is a moving story, recounted by Hamza Yusuf, about a air-hostess who is 'forced' to serve wine and how her reaction is physical.

It's a short bit from 2:41:12 to 2:44:25





I feel sad too but for an entirely different reason...

That she, like the lady I met in Pakistan, has been conditioned (by a belief system) to feel a physical reaction to something that she finds offensive i.e. goes against her belief.

The conditioning is offensive... not the word.

Dodgy

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02-04-2016, 12:35 AM
RE: "Bad" words
I don't mind the swearing if it has some purpose, like when you're talking how fucked something is in Poland. And considering how fucked things are there I find it strange that people use not only invective's during the talks.

Also I swear. A lot, especially when I'm annoyed.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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02-04-2016, 12:50 AM
RE: "Bad" words
I swear often, but in private. I like being polite.

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02-04-2016, 01:16 AM
RE: "Bad" words
(02-04-2016 12:50 AM)GenesisNemesis Wrote:  I swear often, but in private. I like being polite.

I swear often, but only in public. In private I like being polite.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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02-04-2016, 01:18 AM
RE: "Bad" words
I feel like one cannot be a true connoisseur of a language if they section part of it off to never use. The real trick is to use such words creatively, and with enough mastery, one can even convey their meaning and more without using them. Master wordsmiths like Hitchens and Twain could insult someone without them even realizing they were being insulted.

But sometimes you stub your toe on the corner of that same blasted couch for the umpteenth time and you just really need that cathartic 'FUCK!' at the moment.

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02-04-2016, 01:21 AM
RE: "Bad" words
(02-04-2016 01:18 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  I feel like one cannot be a true connoisseur of a language if they section part of it off to never use. The real trick is to use such words creatively, and with enough mastery, one can even convey their meaning and more without using them. Master wordsmiths like Hitchens and Twain could insult someone without them even realizing they were being insulted.

But sometimes you stub your toe on the corner of that same blasted couch for the umpteenth time and you just really need that cathartic 'FUCK!' at the moment.

Beautifully said.

"If there's a single thing that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so." - Lev Grossman
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