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  1. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are curse words really that bad?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Shadow Dragon, Aug 27, 2008.

    I figure a forum of writers would be a good place to ask this question.

    I have always wondered why there is such a big deal made about curse words. Like for example, if a radio personality got frustrated and said f*** on the air, he would get fined, and there would be a huge deal made about it. He would probably have to do some public apology or something. However if in the same situation, he would have said darn it, no one would have cared. Its the same context and same meaning, but yet one is ok and the other isn't. In my opinion there is no such thing as a bad word. Curse words are just a series of sounds that we put together to express an emotion or idea, the same as every other word in existance. Its primitive to think that one series of sounds is inherently bad, while another is ok, when they are expressing the same thing. So, what do you guys think about curse words.

    Also, I ask everyone to be civil so that this thread doesn't get locked. Thank you.
     
  2. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with you Shadow Dragon, but I think this may be aided by the fact I am young and not allowed to use curse words and simply refuse to accept why. For whatever reason, whether stupid or not, we have selected words within our language which we have deemed as "inappropriate", and I do not think it does any harm by not using these words. My nana always said "If you cannot express yourself without resorting to obsenities, don't speak at all." She is great. :p
     
  3. Jade
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    Jade Active Member

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    I don't know. I think people get offended too easily these days - like the big deal made out of political correctness and I suppose swearing is pretty much the same. It's easy to say something and unintentionally offend someone.

    But no - I don't think curse words are that bad. I hear them so much I've stopped really noticing each instance that they are used. They're just part of the background noise to me :p
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    In my view, it shows almost a lack of imagination. Is that really the best way you can think of to express yourself? In writing (and in life) I can understand its use for shock value, but I think regular use in speech, etc, is a little pointless from a conversational point of view, as it serves little purpose and thus loses even shock value.

    And there is the point that some people do find it offensive. I like offending people as much as anyone, but only when they've deserved it. That's my main reason for mediating my language, to respect the people around me.
     
  5. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's because curse words are language's equivalent of punching someone in the face. They are extreme and "violent" ways of expressing a negative emotion. They are associated with groups like teenagers who want to rebel, or people who work in rough environments like mines and construction sites. Those groups are known for being physically violent. There is nothing "refined" or "eloquent" about those words. Then you get into even more trouble if you actually think about the definition is. I always think it's funny when I hear some kid use a swear word when it's obvious they don't actually know what it means.
     
  6. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    See now, I say all of that, and my language is disgusting for such an "innocent face" as one shocked teacher said. I have grown up with my mam always swearing and all my mates and stuff so I guess it doesn't shock me. I am actually going to stop swearing, along with a lot of other things, in an attempt to be more lady like, lmao.

    I think a swear word can make a joke sometimes, like with stand up, dry homour comedy. And I think it makes someone know you are series if you are arguing. But yes, not really nessesary.
     
  7. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    I have no problem with swearing in writing. But there is such a thing as overusing it or using it wrongly. As an example, I wrote one piece set in a fictional city dealing with criminals. They'd swear and use street language as a result. To portray them realistically, it is kinda necessary to have the words included.

    The odd few words in prose does no harm either, if it fits the situation and point of view character. But in contrast to the above, has anyone watched Deadwood?

    I attempted to write a short western piece similar to it from a first person perspective and most of it was full of swearing. Both in dialog and outside of dialog. I showed this to a family member (don't really have others to show my work to unless I pester folk online, though the family member is honest) and said he didn't like it. It was full of swearing and nothing to it to quote him, and he was quite right. Of course, I'd not even written half a page. I must admit though, I felt it did have a bit of a lyrical edge. ;)

    So that's two sides of the coin. I feel as long as it's not overused and fits, it's fine. I'm not one to avoid the risk of upsetting people if it represents the characters falsely or anything else like that.

    Edit: Heather, good old brit here myself. Manchester and not exactly in the best part of the city. ;) Grew up with swearing in high school like you. Parents don't swear though and I make sure to mind my manners in front of them. Outside is a different matter though. I guess I kinda just treat it as a fact of life and one necessary in writing if you want things to be realistic.
     
  8. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Curse words aren't necessary, but I don't see a problem with them either. Like if you stub your toe there is more chance you are going to say the F-word. I know at school sometimes the only way to get people to shut up is to swear at them and also swearing like Heather said can be used in dry humor.
    I don't have a problem with swearing it shouldn't be the first thing that comes out of your mouth, but it is also somewhat needed at times.
     
  9. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    No words are bad by nature, its just the will behind the words.
     
  10. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    If you look at some curse words, they are directly belittling towards a group or individual type of person, IE: the "N" word. In which case these words fall into the category of "profane".

    This is the group of "Profane" words I can respect their placements in words that should not be used. In every way open they are truly "Curse" words.

    In some cases the word itself came to be for no other purpose then to be an insulting belittling word or phrase against a type of people and has no 'noble history' to make it anything other then an obscene word, and as such by inception is Profane.

    In every sense of the way it can be said, these are "bad words".

    I hope this helps you.
     
  11. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    However, its quite common for rappers to use the n word during songs. So even then the context is more important than the word itself.
     
  12. ValianceInEnd
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    ValianceInEnd Active Member

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    This is definitely a question that I think bothers everyone. By some strange twist of things, these words somehow became taboo in our language. But I think our society is really grating to the point where they don't even have the impact that they once did. It still can shock people to hear an f-word in public, just not to the same degree. Honestly, I have times where I curse up a storm, and it just feels better to swear than say ,"Well darned it!" They're therapy words for anger really. :p
     
  13. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    If you look up the definitions (The real ones) of some curse words you'll be surprised.

    The f-word is actually a pimple on an elephant's butt. How it became an insult is beyond me.

    Either way, society sets norms for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This various from one culture to another. In the US for example, nude beaches are almost non-existant because it's against the norm to be naked in almost any public setting (except for Burning Man!). In europe however, nude beaches can be quite common because the societies there have set a different norm.

    Somehow it became the norm that certain words were unacceptable, which is still quite common. New words are added to the list all the time and old ones are taken away. It was only a decade ago you couldn't say "suck" or "darn with an m" anywhere without having your tongue cut out. That isn't the case anymore though. These words are now quite common.

    In short society has a need to set standards of behavior. Some words are "wrong" because society sees fit to make them so. You don't question why it just happens. Most of these words are "wrong" because they rarely have a use outside of being insults, which isn't the case anymore as now must are used as excited utterances rather than insults. Arguing that no words are bad really is not something worth much time and effort. There are other things to complain about (war, economies, who gets to ride shot gun, the last coke in the fridge).

    Norms change with time. There was a time when the f-word, and the b-word, etc. was unacceptable in public settings or any setting for that matter but that's changing. We'll think up new norms trust me.
     
  14. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Umm, that's not what dictionary.com says.
     
  15. Samswriting
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    Samswriting Senior Member

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    This one's really so simple, I dont know how it gets so worked up. A word is simply a word, it cannot be bad or good, a tool of sorts yes? It is up to the user to make it good or bad.

    If your lover whispers in your ear so wonderfully the F-bomb followed by me. I think you and I would all think its fine.

    if your foe screams in your face the F-bomb followed by you. You'd pull the gun and fire back yes?

    There are few enough words that started "bad". They become bad by the connotation they become familiar with. There was a day a female dog was called a bitch, in certain circles (dog shows for example, Westminster Abbey) it is a well used word with no negative meaning at all. The first time I really saw it in writing was in elementary school reading about a six legged dog. Hrm.. even then I knew this word was "bad" and I had to really figure out what it meant, then I realized we have destroyed its meaning and tagged it and flagged it as evil. its not.

    So how you say it with what intent is everything. If I look at you and call you mean while laughing and giving you a hug. I think we agree its not bad.

    If I look at you with disgust and call you a toad, you know i'm not complementing you.

    however due to the nature of some words in today's world, it is best to stay clear of them, for the sake of simple respect to those around you.
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For me, it all depends on context. I grew up in a house with little restrictions on colorful words. The line was drawn between whether a word was directed at someone or not. A big, honkin’ F You! was absolutely right out. But a big honkin’ F! at smashing one’s thumb with a hammer would not have raised an eyebrow.

    In writing, I think it has its place, but as Matt already mentioned, overuse (and it is almost always overused when it is used) just shows a lack of imagination. It tells me that the writer’s toolbox is rather lacking.
     
  17. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bitch is definitely an interesting example of that.

    I had a teacher who once told me that there is no such thing as a bad word, only a bad time to use it. For myself, I don't like these words because they are almost always used for negative reasons. I think it's important to use positive language as much as possible. I almost never swear. People know I'm really angry when I start using the F word. But honestly, I'm sure someone touched on this already, there are more creative ways to express yourself.
     
  18. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    I don't find swear words offensive at all. I also have to agree that using any word commonly found offensive or not, all depends on the situation.

    For example, I used the word "retard" in front of a friend, who happens to be president of the True Friends Club at school (they help and hang out with the severe, special-needs kids at the school). He was horribly offended and said never to use that word again. Of course, he didn't really care when I used far more offensive words in front of him.

    Really, just respect the people you're around and censure the language you use to express your ideas accordingly.
     
  19. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    The funny thing is that the word "retard" used to be the politically correct term. It was used in order to have a word that wasn't insulting like "idiot," or "moron."
     
  20. Samswriting
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    Samswriting Senior Member

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    *CDRW beat me to the post on Retarded* other interesting things..
    Deaf = hearing impaired
    mute = vocally impaired = dumb

    i'm not short, i'm vertically challenged.. right?

    Retarded, is clinically correct and for eon's was a correct usage, now its mentally challenged or whatever. You have to accept the choice of society in the times you live.

    You have to understand your audience.

    We all know some deragotory words for various races, and sexes. We'd never utter them for fear of retrobution.

    But we call women or girls "chicks" the english men call them "birds" I correct my kids all the time "this chick" you mean girl right son? Just because it IS disrespectful.

    Cigarettes oh don't get me started on that.

    Its all context.

    And nothing is more fun than when you smash your toe, screaming at the top of your lungs... "HOLY COWABUNGA" Nobody is offended (give it 20 years) and everyone yourself included laughs.
     
  21. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    People are free to use them, I just prefer not to hear them. Plus I have a tendency to prejudge people on the basis of their looks/speech. Expletives flying off the cuff in any atmosphere just reeks of lack of self-restraint. I'm more impressed with a man who "stubs his toe" and may think all those things, yet not say them, than one who lets loose.

    Though I admit I'm guilty of using it in certain character's dialogues in my stories. Hypocritical hippo, I am >_>;;

    And believe it or not, the teenagers out there probably couldn't hold a candle up to the middle-aged men in my office. I'm always amazed at the stuff that flies out of their mouths.
     
  22. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Dialogue is a bit different I think. People do swear, and certain characters are going to. In that context, it would seem out of place not to.
     
  23. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    Then I suppose I'm not such a Hypocritical Hippo after all. >_>

    Anyway, I don't mean to say that all people who curse are terrible. It's just "lack of self restraint" would be my first impression.
     
  24. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    The words meaning has changed drastically over time. There actually quite a debate as to the exact etymology (Wonder how much free time I have on my hands :p).

    I have a dictionary that was published in 1957 (Now you know all about my financial resources XD). And elephants butt pimp is one of several definitions.
     
  25. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I would have to disagree. The word by origin and usage, by foundation was a word used to degrade and insult a group of people to subhuman status.

    Perhaps rappers use it in some attempt to remove the stigma.
     
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