Saturday, November 17, 2012

F*ck

What people define as a swear word varies from person to person but there are always a few that are universally a swear word. But what determines a swear word? What is it about the connotation of those words that makes them "bad"

I'll admit I swear on a pretty regular basis. I try not to over do it and become tasteless though; I prefer to demonstrate a greater vernacular than those short simple swear words, as effective as they may be. But really, what about those words makes them so offensive

Let's just get the big one out of the way.

Fuck.

Why is this a curse word? The flexibility of the word is unrivaled, as it can be used as either a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and can stand alone as a predicate or subject of a sentence and can be used to describe a variety of different emotions such as happiness, exasperation, anger, surprise and many others. If you trace the origins of the word you'll find that it is the sexual connotation of the word that originally gave rise to its vulgar status. It was used to desecrate the holy nature of sex (if you can imagine it used to have that nature) in a way that would offend God fearing men and women of old times. So why is it offensive now? 

Let's take a look at a couple examples.

"I'm going to shit on your food!"

And...

"That fucking guy is pissing me off!"

I don't know about you, but I'd be more offended if someone defecated in my meal than if I were to hear the second phrase in passing. But it's almost funny if you were to hear the first phrase, like something you would imagine Will Ferrell yelling to someone as a childish comeback in one of his movies. 

Let's try another.

"Shove it up your ass!"

And...

"Go fuck yourself!"

Which one is more offensive? Both have a sexual suggestion, either forcing something up your ass or a vulgar masturbation reference. So which is worse? Let's say you were to say one of those to your boss, which one do you think your boss would be more offended by? I don't think it would matter. I think either way you'd probably be getting fired. So then why is "ass" acceptable to say on television and "fuck" is not?

When you think about it doesn't make much sense. Unless of course you take the context of the sentence into play and to whom that sentence is being spoken to.

So let's try this....

"I'm going to kill you!"

And...

"I'm going to kick your fuckin' ass!"

Alright so you have the threat of physical violence in both of these statements but which is more offensive? Suppose you and your family are sitting at a restaurant and you hear one those phrases shouted out from a table next to you. Which would upset you more if your child heard? I've heard TV shows aimed at young adults that use the first phrase as a joke but I've never heard the second phrase in young adult television as a joke or even at all. I would think that killing is more severe  than being beaten up, but that one is the joking phrase? So if we're going to be fair, shouldn't the first phrase be bleeped out in television? You can look at those two sentences either way, either from friend joking with friend, or from to people angry at each other and yet the one that uses the word "fuck" is going to have the more serious tone to it or be the most offensive and strongly provoking. There's just no getting around it. 

So what gives this word so much power in modern times? There are only a couple words that are considered more offensive, one starting with a "C" and one starting with an "N" but even those words strength can be diminished depending on who is using the word to who.  So is it who uses the word that gives it its power? Whether man or woman, child or adult, black, white, Asian, Mexican, French, German, English the word "fuck" is going to be offensive not to mention it's very easily recognized by people who don't speak the same language, so you can even offend people you don't think can understand you.

So to recap we have this universally offensive word. Whether it's friends joking around using the word or two people arguing, it's going to piss some people off if they hear it. We've seen that there are phrases that are more serious and threatening in nature and also just as sexually vulgar and yet, the phrase with the word "fuck" is more offensive. It doesn't matter what context it's in and phrases in a more serious context like, "I'm going to kill you", are still nowhere near as shocking to hear in public than someone dropping a F-Bomb. 

So what gives?

The way I see it a word is just a word. It's all in how it's spoken to someone. I'd be more offended if someone told me I was hideous looking than if someone said "Fuck you." But at the same time it's still tasteless if you use a word over and over when it doesn't need to be used. The word "fuck" can used to add emphasis to a statement when trying to make a point like in: 

"I am so fucking angry."

But makes you sound ignorant and unintelligent when used like this: 

"So this fucking guy walked into the fucking store and I didn't want to fucking help him out and he's asking me these fucking questions and I all like, get the fuck outta here."

It can be just as bad as someone who says "like" in between every word and someone who says "um" in between every word. Both "like" and "um" can be perfectly acceptable if not over used, but too much is just too much. But quantity doesn't matter for "fuck." Once is enough apparently and I can't figure it out for the life of me. The main intention of the word when it was first used is all but gone, the context doesn't matter, worse things that can be said aren't offensive... 

It just doesn't make any sense! 

Usually I have some kind of point that I'm trying to make where I can wrap up everything I said into a closing point. But in this case, I have no fucking idea.
  

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how so called bad words are creeping into being acceptable. They can say slut and ass on TV these days.

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