Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Lost Art of Swearing

The Paradox of Persuasive Profanity;theLost Art of Swearing

"When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear."

(Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calender, 1894)

                The English language is by far the most fun and versatile language that is used today. English encompasses high levels of description, as well as emotion, and is spoken around the globe in both native and non-native dialects.  It’s said (by whom I’ve often wondered) that the roots of English are about 60% Germanic, and 40% Romantic.  What is not clear to me, is the remaining percentage (and yes I can do basic mathematics and realize that 60% + 40% = 100%, so suspend your belief on the infallibility of mathematics for a moment please) that is borrowed via sounds, words, and concepts from the rest of the world.  This percentage is also harvested from American sub-culture (or “Urban Culture” as the Fox network and the rest of the right wing media avidly refer to it). 

Ssssssooooooo…….consider this; the English that we read, write, and speak(unless you prefer  the swansong of languages, Klingon) in this country HAS AND DOES melt with modern slang, blend with old school jive, and twist with international and cultural vernacular.  E-Ebonics, Spanish/Spanglish, and Vietnamese, (just to name a few that is) have a tendency to be substituted and sprinkled within the body of a totally different language, this is done for the sake of convenience for the native tongue.  So before I continue, I would like to take a moment to thank our founding fathers, for not being douche bags, and NOT voting German as our official/unofficial language (officially, we don’t have an official language).Despite the evolution of the English language (oh yes it DOES evolve), some words retain their meaning, value, and effectiveness as effortlessly as many of my former employers lied to me. “

Of all the vivacious words (or word groups) to choose from, there is an important group that speaks from our hearts, body and soul, yet we mistreat or ignore them as if they were red headed step child at the breakfast table.  We feel ambivalent toward the group, but truth be told, we all have a deep passion, a rudimentary instinct, a secret affair, a dark kinky fetish if you will, for these “colorful” words.   In front of our parents, kids, and co-workers, the mask is on, and we shun these colorful words as if these words themselves were slinging dope on the corner, pimping hoes at the liquor store (maybe even Downtown Disney for that matter), or performing 3rd trimester “coat hanger” back alley abortions.  In the presence of anyone worth giving a shit about, we turn our noses up as if to be too good for such nonsense, but as soon as little Johnny is distracted at the swing set we mutter these foul words under our breath. 

“God damn it!!!  That little fucker has ruined his new clothes again.  I just paid for them like, 30mins ago.  Goddamn that stupid ungrateful5year old bastard.”Despite the cathartic nature of these comments in this circumstance, an uneasy hush fills the air.  We stop to compose ourselves, and take note that we have just obviously offended every mother, child, and old person within a ten foot radius.  Was it the poignant tone in our voice, the superfluous volume, or was our choice in words, just plain invective?  Maybe a little to colorful you tell yourself.  Since little Johnny is a pain in the ass, eats his boogers in public, and isn’t my kid, we will abandon him at the swing set, in order to continue our fun filled adventure in the lost art of swearing.

For fucks sake, don’t act so fucking surprised that I’m swearing in this article, after all, you read the title didn’t you?  We all say these words all the time in casual adult conversation (and if you don’t, then you’re a fucking liar and should be shot on site, you goddamn liar)but swear words, curse words, foul language whatever the fuck you want to call it has a place in our hearts, minds, and modern day conversation both professional and domestic.  Now, you may have been brought up to believe that these words are negative, imply crude and lewd behavior, provoke hostility, are sexist, and just make people downright miserable and uncomfortable (in the same way working in a call center feels) and they this can be true, however, depending on the context and tone, these words can also bring us great joy in humor and comedy, help to treat pain, help to emphasis value on a complicated topic or be used to highlight importance on boring or difficult subject, and promote bonds within groups, particularly (in my experience), when applied to small team settings.

Think back to your first day in 7th grade (unless you dropped out in a noble endeavor to pursue your GED, you were homeschooled like a modern day leper, or funding from the state department of Juvenal Detention and Rehabilitation did not permit you to).  You were excited to take a step closer to adult hood, freedom to choose your own classes, freedom to check scantily clad exotic chicks you had no legitimate business being around.  If “Jr. High is this rad, wait till I fuck shit up in college”, you tell yourself, (or something else along those lines perhaps).  Homeroom, Math, etc., till you make it to 5th period, Spanish class with….. Mr. White (what an appropriate name for a Spanish teacher).  $20 says (on average) all you can remember in Spanish class is the following……

A)     How bad the room smelled

B)      How to count to 10 in Spanish

C)      Your primary colors (how else can you be racist in Spanish you racist fuck)

D)     Wondering why Mr. White locked his own child in the broom closet from 5th period to the end of the day, and of course……..

E)      That one time this girl Sammy had a random outburst and yelled “Muslim Power” while the rest of the class continued on (in silence mind you) and took no notice , and finally

F)      Dirty words and phrases!!! (What, you seriously don’t remember the authentic Spanish speakers in class working the system by taking Spanish as a foreign, <WAY TO FUCKING GO!!!!> Language and teaching us how to talk dirty?

“chupa me verga” , “Ponocha”  ‘hoto” “puenta” I can remember being taught how to say “Kienes tu papa??” but little more.  Now, would it surprise you to learn that most foreigners have just as equal an ability to retain the same basic information, fuck they are even in a semi emersion environment (like any clerk at a gas station, CVS, etc.),and at least know how to say “Get the FUCK Out” or “You see this gun my friend?” the liquor store clerk brandishes a glock, “Man behind this trigger fuck you up”.  It’s almost like the emotion behind it, is really just the most elegant, appropriate, and easiest way to tie an idea to someone else in the face of communication barriers.

So let’s wrap things up.  What have we learned about swearing today?  Well, if used appropriately, swearing can heal the sick, bring comfort to the imprisoned, and bring moral food to the hungry (almost like Jesus’ beatitudes).   Although foul language may not be appropriate for everyone, that shouldn’t stop you from using it, if the scenario calls for it.  If swearing were not important on at least some levels, you would be able to remember a lot more from 7th grade Spanish class.