Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What makes a swear word a swear word?

Why is it acceptable to use one word in company and not another?
Who was it that first said 'f*ck' and then added, "Oh, and by the way, that’s a swear word. Naughty me"?
Why can I use certain words in public and not others?

To confuse the issue further, the makers of TV programmes--in an attempt not to offend viewers and the regulatory bodies--have made up swear words.
PORRIDGE was probably the first with NAFF and NERK but we have later additions with BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s FRACK and FARSCAPE’s FRELL. So it seems quite acceptable to make up swear words and then to use them in public. We all know what is really being said without actually saying it, so why can’t we just say it--and how soon will it be before these made-up swear words actually end up in the dictionary of swear words and become unacceptable to use? Will future reruns of Porridge be banned before the watershed?
We also have the huge dictionary of swear words that aren’t swear words unless we put them in the wrong (or right) sentence:

'Sleeping Beauty was distracted by a couple of tits pecking at half a coconut hanging outside her window. She pricked herself on the needle and cursed her now bloody gown'

And let’s not forget that I can quite legitimately call someone a dickhead if his name just happens to be Richard Head.
Then we have those expressions that aren’t technically swear words but should be, especially when you know their origin—cock-eyed is a perfect example. I'll leave you to Google that one.
So what does make a swear word a swear word, and can I make one up or convert an existing word into a swear word? And why is it that swearing feels so good? Why does it give so much pleasure? They’re just words after all, but words we need!  Catch your foot underneath the living room door and rip off half your toenail and 'oh, dearie me' just doesn’t cut it. It needs a quick barrage of obscenities even if it is only under your breath.
Having said all that though, we need to respect swear words. Inserting the word f*ck after every third word destroys the art of profanity. It devalues it. If you say f*ck at the least little thing, what are you going to say when you really need to swear? And if, in the future, we became a more (or less) enlightened society where no word is a swear word, would we be using those words more or less?

1 comment:

  1. Smegging good post! (and dont let any scrote tell you otherwise)


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