I Swear I am Trying (To Curb The Swearing)

I hope that this is going to be an interactive blog and I’d appreciate (constructive) feedback.

The evolution of swearing and profanity has changed a lot since I was a child.

Media, the Internet and even just general everyday conversations are often dotted with the odd S word or A word and even, it seems, the F-word is not worth batting an eyelash if used offhandedly and without malice or too much volume.

 It is no secret that I have a terrible potty mouth.

Not just your stock standard list of expletives either.  I command the use of words that apparently can get you deported from Canada according to Kevin Bloody Wilson (don’t click on that if you can’t cope with the C-word… seriously, you will find the song appalling).

I do try to employ discretion when meeting new people at networking and business events, (generally successfully when sober), however, as soon as the first swear word is exchanged the conversation generally quickly descends to the level of sailors, farmers, rig pigs or IT professionals profanity standards.

I decided this weekend just past that my swearing has gotten to the point where I need to do something about it.

We were at a dear friends house, and my lovely daughter (who NEVER swears and interjects with helpful suggestions like saying flip instead of the F-word) was playing my friends guitar.  He politely asked for it back.  Darling Daughter was not overly enthusiastic about relinquishing her grasp on the instrument.  I calmly responded to her lack of manners by saying:

“Oh FFS darling, you really ought to stop acting like an asshole and give him back the guitar.  I know you’re a good kid, so please act like it.”

Or something very near to that effect.

To those of you who are utterly appalled and ready to contact Child Youth and Family Services to declare me an unfit mother – keep reading.

Upon becoming a parent I had the best of intentions of curbing or stopping swearing in order to set a good example to our children.

That lasted all of five minutes, and was certainly not an idea that held much clout while I was in labour.  I outdid myself in the profanity department during this part of the blessed event.

Now, more than eight years and three bright and generally well behaved children into the parenting adventure, I’m ready to take the first step in recovery by admitting I have a problem.

I said it. You read it.  I swear way too fucking much.

Oops.

So here’s the thing.

I feel most at ease with those who are in our inner social sanctum and we all swear a great deal together because we can’t go about using expletives willy nilly in our daily lives or professional capacities.

We even have some special made up swear words that would send poor former pope Benedict to an early grave if he should eves drop on a conversation laced with them.

I’ve read articles that back my assertion that a bit of profanity can be a positive thing.

A bit.

Too much is well documented to make a person look like quite a sad case.

There is a time and place for swearing and it can break down social distance and eases tension if used appropriately.

I go to extreme lengths to keep expletives to an absolute minimum online.

I feel like I do a fairly good job of this in comparison to my terrible lack of self-control and censorship in the real world.

So here’s what I’d like to know.

Do we live in a time when swearing is commonplace and mainstream?

How much profanity is acceptable and at what point does it become offensive?

And last but not least… Does anyone want to put a bet on to see if I can go cold turkey for a spell and assert only G-rated conversation regardless of the context?

I’m willing to give it a go.

I’m a bit vulnerable now that I’ve posted this, so please keep the swearing to a minimum and be kind with your feedback.

Looking forward to hearing what you think.


16 thoughts on “I Swear I am Trying (To Curb The Swearing)

  1. All profanity is acceptable if no one is offended. Personally I’d like to see a world where we can express ourselves as we wish without others becoming offended. If we don’t give the words power they have none.

    1. Still think we need a few gems that hold a bit of clout and should only be pulled out for very special occasions. That is what helped start this conversation. The C bomb gets dropped willy nilly in my house – and when we bring it back to other countries it gets us in trouble. And people are always going to be offended – it is more a case of where the goal posts for what the rest of us think they are entitled to be offended by. 🙂 Also, using words in a derogatory manner like gay and retard and others is something that we ought to be discussing. Loaded stuff really…

      1. And when I say we ought to be discussing them, I mean I totally get offended by people using them in those contexts. Thought I should clarify… Guess I’m not as much of a fan of free speech as I thought.

  2. I used to swear a lot but I stopped.. but still occasionally the odd word escapes.. unfortunately I am of those people who, if they get a phrase, name or word stuck in their minds it just keeps repeating like some bad shellfish.. swear words included. Some times I walk around for hours with some really bad words going around in my head..

    I think there is a place for profanity – some times there is a time when the best, and easiest way to express something is that way. But if, for example, you use the F word every sentence, it loses its power. It becomes, in effect, “um”. For those of us who know what it means, replacing “um” with a swear word is just silly. Just say um. Or even better, don’t say anything at all until you have a complete sentence that doesn’t need pauses (and this is coming from a person with reactive verbal diarrhea – so don’t think I can even come close to this.. I wish I did, life would be a lot easier).

    I’ve found that I don’t actually _need_ to swear any more.. I’ve found different and more interesting ways to express my opinion.. my Mom always said “swearing is just laziness”, and to some extent that is true. Why couldn’t you have said: “Darling, you really ought to stop acting like an annoying brat and give him back the guitar. I know you’re a good kid, so please act like it.” The swearing didn’t make it more profound or carry any weight.. it was just additional rubbish that didn’t need to be said (I am sure you understand what I am saying).

    Words are like music, most of the time less is more. As Edge from U2 said, when you put a note out there, you can not take it back, and it is the same for words. If you say the C word or the F word, you can not take them back. If you hurt some one with them, you can not take the hurt back. They say “names will never hurt you” but I know from experience, that one badly placed (or appropriately depending on intention I guess) adjective can really destroy someone. Its happened to me, and I have probably done it to people too. I reckon we should just do our best to reserve this kind of language for when we really need it.

    (just my random, over tired, slightly illogical thoughts on the matter)

    1. I heart your thoughts on this Geoff! The fact I used the word asshole and not brat was a turning point for me.

      Also, the less is more advice is accurate 🙂

  3. Cool topic. Personally, swear words just don’t sound right to me – they sound like an ! in the middle of a sentence. I love learning about the evolution of words (including swear words) but just can’t use them myself. I think I’m a product of my upbringing and environment in some ways though because neither of my parents swore (and that filtered down from their parents). Back in the olden days I had a teenage friend, and when she talked, pretty much every third word was a swear word. It honestly just got a little tiresome and boring – I just wanted to hear what she actually thought rather than the image she wanted to portray. Contrarily though, I remember listening to a lot of Kevin Bloody Wilson with my brother when we were teens. Ha! Plus, I don’t say very many words, so I don’t want to waste them on words I don’t like the sound of!

    1. Kirstin – you are seriously very cool and I am so glad to know you. A lovely gentle comment to help encourage me (and maybe others) to swear a little less. XXOO

  4. Potty talk, like seasoning, is best used sparingly. It’s there for a reason — to add impact and flavour. And when have taken all that powerful impact out of our message through liberal overuse of expletives, where do we go from there?

    Swearing, much like praise, eventually it loses all of its meaning if absolutely everything is brilliant and amazing.

    When I want to express my displeasure with someone, if I call them a fucking wanker, I need for them to know that they ARE a fucking wanker, and not just receiving some throwaway matey banter.

    But you have realised this, hence writing this fucking piece of shit article, which incidentally is THE BEST EVA fucking piece of shit I have ever read.

    Do you see? Yes, I believe you do. 😉

  5. Potty talk, like seasoning, is best used sparingly. It’s there for a reason — to add impact and flavour. And when have taken all that powerful impact out of our message through liberal overuse of expletives, where do we go from there?

    Swearing, much like praise, eventually it loses all of its meaning if absolutely everything is brilliant and amazing.

    When I want to express my displeasure with someone, if I call them a fucking wanker, I need for them to know that they ARE a fucking wanker, and not just receiving some throwaway matey banter.

    But you have realised this, hence writing this fucking piece of shit article, which incidentally is THE BEST EVA fucking piece of shit I have ever read.

    Do you see? Yes, I believe you do. 😉

    1. That’s a 10/10 reply right there. Do I praise too much though now I am wondering? I do believe it is earnest even though it is frequent. So thanks for making me laugh and also making me paranoid!

  6. I think that it all depends on the audience. In saying that, i think that it is important to be able to hold a conversation devoid of swearing if the need arises. That is one of my problems, because I have a few friends and family members who strongly dislike swearing and I find it very difficult to hold a conversation without a swear word or two popping out. I personally have nothing against swearing and can swear like a sailor given the opportunity. But sometime I think that it has the side effect of limiting my vocabulary so that i begin to depend on the use of swear words instead of normal adjectives and this becomes a problem when the use of a swearword is not appropriate. I think that it would be an interesting experiment to have “swear free” evenings with friends and see whether we can do it with practice. Also a good way to expand your vocabulary in my opinion.

  7. Swearing has become normalised to a large degree. I think the C word is one of the few left that still raises an eyebrow or two when said however in general swearing is certainly more commonplace than when I was growing up. I don’t believe this makes it “right”, however, depending who was saying it and the tone and context with which it is used, I probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid!

    I don’t swear often but when I do it’s usually for a good reason – and the tone usually reflects that – like the time a motorist cut me off and I called them a wanker – my then 4 year old asked me what a wanker was – like always she stopped me in my tracks made me realise what I had said and that even though they were a wanker, I shouldn’t have said it out loud, in front of her – and then proceeded to point madly at the driver in front of me to explain the reasons for my expletive!

    On the whole I don’t think there is a necessity to swear, however it is commonplace and sometimes it just feels so damn good to let it out!

    1. Awesome reply Karen! I Love that story about S in the car 🙂 I really have tried to curb the potty mouth since this blog, and it has been strangely liberating. Feeling rather good about using other words and keeping the profanity to a minimum!

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