Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cussing and Cursing.

I grew up with a mom that did not allow cussing. She also considered racial comments cussing. While she was at it, so was putdowns.

I was close to fifty when I learned the word cussing should be cursing. My mother had talked to one of the supervisors at Happy Hour Workshop for developmentally delayed adults. She noted he called cussing cursing. Bells and whistles went off and another a piece of my dialect disappeared. No worries, I say plenty more.

Drifting through the blogosphere, I came across one blog discussing how curse words should be handled with care.

My first reaction was "how sweet" which translate into let's get a little real here. Ironic in that I don't believe in cursing. However, I let words slip. As a teacher, I thought I never cursed. My developmentally delayed brother can be a kid at heart, perennial teenager or the 62-year-old man he is. Pretty much liked all of us.

Cutting to the chase, he laughs at curse words. Well, guess what, I curse a hell of a lot more than I thought. Yeah. I let a mild one rip, on purpose for comic effect. I can't hear you laughing. Of course, that would be pretty weird in that only me and the word processor know my words at this moment.

In retirement, I have to resist the urge to not curse. Crazy, I know. The other thing I wrestle with is that filter we all use with what comes out of our mouth. You know that handy thing we all acquire from having terribly angry folks in our face because of what we slipped up and said.

My worst one was telling a woman that her niece said her boyfriend acted interested in her. She had been talking about her niece's big ego. And that is when I let this jewel or more apropos stinkbomb explode in my face. Young and dumb is overrated.

Anyway, this is my comment on her blog. My question is where does the idea that poor people are more likely to curse. I do know being impulsive, telling people that their significant other has the hots for someone else can lead to a lower income. But crassness permeates all income levels. You can be low income because of life circumstances.

I stopped cursing as a teacher. I've never been big into cursing and the adage that cursing meant you had a lack of vocabulary became more apparent as I have aged. Frankly, cursing is used as a substitute for being able to verbalize your emotions. 
As a writer, you short shrift your characters when you give curse words versus what they are feeling or doing. I don't find comedians who curse a lot in their routine as funny as the laugh track that accompanies them. 
The last point about characters is that cursing crosses all social classes. Just because someone is poor or uneducated does not mean they curse. I feel the downtrodden get enough knocks without people educated in human nature enriching the stereotype. My mother punished us in the sixties for racial comments as cursing.


  1. People who work on wall street say *hi* every other word, and they aren't dumb or broke, usually. I curse when called for with the cat, as most rhyme well haha

    1. A little dew rhymes quite true as long as folks don't know it's blue.

      I have a feeling if a cat could talk, it would sound like your cat. I have a 16 year old female. All of my dogs part like the red sea in a Cecil de Mille movie when she passes.

  2. I never cursed as a teacher and my parents never cursed in front of us. When I use bad language, 90% of the time it's when I'm alone, mostly likely driving and directed at other drivers.

    Susan Says

    1. Crazy drivers can bring it out. There is a long main drag in Warner Robins where I don't allow my brother to talk. Too many cars just pull out or turn left in front of you. My big curse word is really a euphemism. It is "shoot". The worst part is I'll start with a long sh- sound which I don't always complete.

  3. An excellent, thoughtful post, Ann. I, on the very rare occasion, will use a naughty word in my blog, mainly for dramatic impact. Generally, of course, verbalisation of one's emotions doesn't need to include swear words.

    Your comment on her blog, I totally relate to. Indeed, profanity is an equal opportunities situation. Plenty of poor do not swear. A number of rich folks I've met, swore in every second sentence.

    Enjoy your Sunday and thank you.


    1. Thanks for kind comment. I've sort of had a Catch-22 moment with my writing, some of my characters curse. It is debatable whether I leave them in because it limits the readership.
      When I had a reluctant reader when I taught eighth grade, I would pick up Steinbeck's book "Of Mice and Men". The book is conveniently short, and I would warn them that they might not want to read the book because of naughty language. They walked out of the library every time with it.

  4. This is a topic that I've written about on occasion. I too was raised in a household where cursing was not tolerated. Part of that was probably the era since cursing was rarely heard out in public and never in movies. Rarely did I hear my parents curse and then it was very mild by today's standards.

    Still I rarely curse though sometimes something will slip out. I'm appalled by the language I hear middle school and even elementary age kids using. Also I find it disturbing to be out in a restaurant and people in tables nearby are using language that I find very distasteful. We live in a new era, but linguistically speaking I can't say it's a better era.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. I grew up in a military town and sometimes my dad could use some pretty salty language. As he got older and especially after he retired, he never cursed. I guess it was an occupational hazard.

      It disturbs me how specific words manufacture laughs for comedians and I think, "What is the power in that one word?" So I guess that is why middle schoolers use it so much. All that power and no place to go.

  5. Interesting topic! I've always been of the opinion that curse words are only bad if you give them that power and I didn't grow up with language taboos. Don't you think making words forbidden is what makes them attractive to children? They think it's coo! It annoys the hell out of me when I'm watching a movie on TV and dialogue gets blanked out or dubbed over. It ruins the flow of the scene and we all know what the character said, so WTF? ;) I tend to use curse words for emphasis mainly, but it doesn't bother me when other people are more prolific with them, EXCEPT when it's every second word. That becomes tiresome very quickly and yes, shows a lack of vocabulary knowledge. In my opinion, fictional characters should use realistic dialogue and that includes curse words.

    1. In plays, books and movies, cursing does not bother me if it defines character, situation or plot. But the random tossing of the f bomb for an R rating grates at me. If a child is old enough to follow a complex story, they are old enough to hear curse words. I do agree brain development continues until 20 to 24. However, that reason part of the brain kicks in from 12 to 14.

      As far as people I meet. It boils down to whether I like them. It is hard to get disturbed with someone you like. I have asked people to clean their language up.

  6. I don't think being poor makes a huge difference, although I think being uneducated does.

    I'll let a mild word slip now and then, but I learned not to cuss when I worked in auto salvage (many, many years ago.) Every other word those guys said was the f bomb, so I made it a point not to say any cuss words. It didn't take long before all the guys caught on and refrained from saying bad words in front of me.


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