- Books, Literature, and Writing
Reversing the Curse (Word)
What's the Word?
The English language has taken several hits over the past few decades. From the rise in texting and instant messaging to the rise of slang in Webster's Dictionary, our language hasn't seen so much change since the beginning of the industrial age. Undoubtedly the younger generations are affected more as it plays more of a role in popular culture and everyday life. However, I'm somewhat disheartened to hear how many kids are using curse words.
I would like to say that I don't think people of any age should curse so often in public. And it's not that I'm prudish or have high moral standards but sometimes I like to walk through the grocery store, sit in a movie theater or just walk down the street without hearing someone blurt out something I don't necessarily want to hear.
There should still be the desire for people to express themselves uniquely without some of us having to feel uncomfortable while others do it.
Why I Don't Curse
I've heard curse words in many languages. But no matter how you say it, it's still insulting. I believe in the first amendment and how it endorses the right to free speech, but I still think there's an implied responsibility. Look at the Constitution itself. There are no inappropriate words stuck in there by our Founding Fathers. They thought enough of their country to use language that was not only understandable but honorable in explaining how we should govern ourselves.
My parents cursed when I was a kid and when I was younger my first curse word was taken from a James Brown song. It wasn't intentional, it's just something that I said when I was playing video games with my cousins and my parents overheard me. To say they were mad was putting it lightly, but soon after that I understood that I just couldn't say whatever came to my head and since then I've tried to think through my words and not blurt out what's in my brain.
I've cursed since then, but it didn't do anything but made me feel embarrassed, dumb, or just plain silly. It was usually in an instance where I was distraught, angry, or just at a loss for more appropriate words. Looking back, it was probably better that I did have a slip of the tongue to make me realize that words have meaning and just saying them isn't always the best way to go.
Also as a writer, cursing is as about as cliche as using "in conclusion." There's no originality, no creativity, and very little thought. That's one thing I like about HubPages is that they encourage creativity by asking that writers tone down harsh language. It's very much something that is okay in certain circumstances, but there's no Shakespeare, Sophocles, or Hemingway that people quote with a curse word in it.
And let me clarify, I don't think people are bad for occasionally using mature language. Sometimes there are instances and situations that warrant the use of a curse word. And there are comedians, writers, and performers who use it cleverly, but every other word? I don't think so.
The Problem with Pop Culture
It's not only family and friends that influence what we say, but pop culture, namely music, movies, and television. Like I said before, I'm not against using curse words in an interesting context but not every other minute. I still think it's more interesting when other words are used in dynamic ways.
Television has changed from the days of "Leave It to Beaver." No longer are there family sitcoms and riveting dramas but racy reality shows, sex-laden dramas, and edgy comedies dominate network schedules. And cable pretty much has the same thing but heightened even more because the standards for broadcasting are different. With that being said, there are very few shows you can find (barring children/family networks) that have no foul language at all. Even shows with families have no problem letting words slip now and then.
Movies are even worse. There are very few movies that don't feature profanity in some form. And even the more classic features like "Gone with the Wind" have signature lines that feature cursing. I remember the days where a PG movie meant no cursing and a PG-13 movie meant a couple of curse words. Now, a PG movie has a couple of curse words and a PG-13 movie sometimes stop short of the F-bomb. It gets old after awhile. In the context of an argument, fine but as a joke or in storytelling it becomes too much sometimes. I admit that sometimes I can't even watch R-rated films because so many have too much profanity to the point it doesn't sound like a sentence anymore.
Music probably has the most wiggle room in terms of getting away with dirty words. Artists have a creative license and now since the 1985 PMRC (Parents Music Resource Council) and the introduction of the Parental Advisory label, it pretty much gives acts free range to include any type of language in their music. For radio edits of singles, most words are edited out but the implications are still felt.
Most of all what irritates me is that dumb bleep you get on TV and radio when an inappropriate word pops up. Sometimes it's discreet and silent, so the song or conversation flows smoothly. And then there are the live words on live television and poorly edited songs that have that loud sound you can't ignore. It's gotten to the point where I could probably sing the bleeps in some songs more than the actual words.
Another thing that pop culture has given us is the vulgarization of everyday words that now we have to be careful about using.
Watch What You Say
You would think with so many inappropriate words that we'd have enough to describe every possible situation, but no. There are people who for some reason or another, wanted to make regular words into inappropriate double entendres.
The shortening of the name Richard used to just mean that. You just didn't want to say Richard when you saw someone with that name. Now because of President Nixon's unfortunate downward spiral, it means... well, you know.
More recently the word head has gone from an innocent word meaning that thing on top of your neck to another word for a sexual act. This one really made me mad because if you call someone big head now, they might not take it the same way as in the 90s.
There are many more words I could use, but I'm sure you get the point.
Put It In Reverse
One of my favorite sayings about choosing words actually comes from someone who openly endorses cursing, Whoopi Goldberg. In her book, Is It Just Me or Is It Nuts Out There? she says, "think it don't say it." I couldn't agree more.
I think alot of things in my head that'll never write or say and I think that's okay. People who say everything they think are not that compelling because there is nothing beyond the obvious presented to us. Even Dr. Gregory House has become old in terms of saying what came to his deranged, Vicodin-riddled mind.
If people really think about their words before they speak, we'd all be better off. There's nothing more disheartening to me than to hear someone erupt in a stream of obscenities in front of children in public or during an inappropriate time such as in the middle of class.
Like I said before, I'm not saying everyone should not ever curse, but if every five words is a bit much.