Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dirty Words

What is your view on the use of "dirty" words?

I am talking about supposedly forbidden words like "f*ck", "sh*t", etc.

When I was growing up, most kids could certainly expect a reaction from our parents if we used these and a variety of other words. We would almost certainly be punished. It would not have been unusual to get the strap. And if we were caught saying these things in school, we almost certainly risked the strap.

But we weren't just worried about the punishment of this world. There was also the next to think of. Swearing was a sin in those days. Why, if God caught you swearing, you could pretty much expect to be in His bad books, and you were risking an afterlife in Hell. (Ironic, isn't it, that a kid wasn't allowed to say Hell, but could have been required to go there.)

That got to be a problem I got a bit older. All the teenagers where I lived used the f-word on a regular basis, myself included. It was just part of normal discourse among teenage peers. It wasn't normally seen as a measure of respect for each other. Instead, it was a measure of belonging to the teen underworld. It was just language. "Hey man, didja get the answer to the second f*cking question on the f*ckin' test? It took me 20 f*cking minutes to figure that f*cking thing out. I thought I was having a hard f*cking time, but then I looked over at Jimmy. Man, he looked like we was gonna f*cking cry."

But even by our mid teens, most of us didn't use this language in front of our parents. The strap was no longer an issue for me when I was 15 or 16, but that didn't mean I wanted to go down that route with my parents.

Long before I had hit my teens, I remember hearing that a boy named Freddy and his sister--they lived down the road a piece from my cousins' house--were both allowed to swear and use all kinds of sinful language--right in front of their folks. Freddy was a bit older than me, but he was still a young teenager. That seemed shocking to me at the time. I remember shortly afterwards being on their front porch and hearing Freddy in a conversation with his mom and he probably used a half dozen words that I wasn't even supposed to know at that time. It looked like a pretty casual conversation. His mom didn't seem perturbed in the least.

That always stuck with me.

See Freddy, was about the nicest kid you could want to meet. So was his sister. You'd a thunk that they would have turned out all rotten, seeing as they clearly were not being brought up right.

But you know what? They grew up to be two very well liked, very respectful adults. And as far as I know, they both had a reputation for being nice kids right through adolescence. So what was the big deal? Why did we make such a fuss about all this "naughty" language?

For my part, I have decided I will not punish children for using "bad" words. As far as I am concerned, it is their language. They have a right to use it. That said, I will (do) set guidelines: The use of a word in itself is not bad. But there is the question of how you use it. We are free to use our language, but not to use it for the purpose of being disrespectful to others. And we should make a point of being sensitive to other's feelings.

So far, I have found this to be pretty effective, although my daughter is pretty young. This, to me, is a good place to start with teaching freedom of speech.

What is your point of view on all this naughty language?


Blogger Mr K said...

Hmm. Certainly I was told off for swearing, although my mother did it enough. I swear with medium amount of profuseness, especially when inebriated.

As to what kids should be taught? Hmm. I guess it all depends on whether a word is truly offensive. Some have become adjectives, but would still offend older people- teaching a child the right time and place to use that kind of language is surely key.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Phil Plasma said...

WRT my kids, I don't know yet. By me, I have always found more imaginative ways to express whatever could be expressed by those words.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Copernicus Now said...

Hey, donchu be sayin' no bad words to me, ya !@#$#@&^$# little punk!!

So, what's WRT?

7:36 PM  
Blogger Phil Plasma said...

Sorry, WRT comes way back from my engineering days where we often had to have things 'with respect to' other things.

12:29 PM  
Blogger BBC said...

I was raised in a mining town, I learned how to swear before I learned how to read. And fuck is such an easy word to learn to spell. LOL

5:19 AM  

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