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Today's Children Are Officially Potty Mouths 449

tetrahedrassface writes "When the Sociolinguistics Symposium met earlier this month swearing scholar Timothy Jay revealed that an increase in child swearing is directly related to an increase in adult swearing. It seems that vulgarity is increasing as pop culture continues to popularize vulgarities. The blame lies with media, public figures, politicians, but mostly ourselves. From the article: 'Children as young as two are now dropping f-bombs, with researchers reporting that more kids are using profanity — and at earlier ages — than has been recorded in at least three decades.'"
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Today's Children Are Officially Potty Mouths

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  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:36AM (#33662112)

    So fucking what? /sarcasm

    • Why the sarcasm?

      I find "So fucking what?" to be a perfectly reasonable answer.

      What is the problem with kids anyone swearing? Is that person hurting anyone else in any way?

      The closest to an explanation I've heard is "I don't want my kids to hear that language". Which is as stupid an argument as can be. Your kids, your fucking problem.

      • Yes, for certain words to be considered taboo is pretty silly.

        Though I do think it's extremely sad when I hear parents shouting and swearing at their 2 year old kids when they are crying (makes you wonder why they're crying when their parents are treating them so nicely!). Seems like they don't have much chance of being happy in life and are just going to do the same to their own kids.

        The best/worst one around here (my workplace is right next to a rather "deprived" area), was a parent shouting "DON'T YOU FU

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Creepy ( 93888 )

          I think certain words carry a certain weight, and overusing them dilutes them. Fuck is a perfect example of a word that has no weight anymore (IMO) - my mom would (and did) literally wash my mouth out with soap for saying that word (shit or crap was about the best I could get away with growing up). Bloody in England had a similar path - it once was taboo to say it, now people use it constantly.

          Remember that some words are derogatory, though - nigger, bitch, cow (to a fat woman), etc - even if you don't co

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by somersault ( 912633 )

            Yep nigger is actually one of the strangest words today I think. It actually is a pretty cool word, ie works well in rap songs, etc, but if a white person says it, they're in trouble. The world is a very strange place.

    • oh noes! people are speaking freely! what a catastrophe!


      It's only in the US that people care about this. Irony of freedom of speech, huh.

    • Re:Oblig. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:22AM (#33662970) Homepage

      Oh Belgium, not this again.

      They're words. As many bright people (including Frank Zappa and George Carlin) have pointed out, getting worked up over the words is silly. Getting worked up over the meanings, hatreds, etc behind the words is appropriate, but the words themselves are harmless.

      A big myth related to children in general is that they're innocent creatures ignorant of all things biological. They aren't, and they never really have been.

  • what is this shit? i don't even....

  • But (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:36AM (#33662124) Homepage Journal

    If curse words become a part of normally accepted speech, what the hell will we use for curse words then???

    • Re:But (Score:5, Funny)

      by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:50AM (#33662392) Homepage

      iPod, iPhone, iPad etc

    • Re:But (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:55AM (#33662446) Journal
      Oh don't worry, we humans have infinite capacity to come up with new insults, so we'll just ratchet up. so instead of calling someone an asshole you'll call them a cum guzzling fucktwit, that's all.
    • Why do we need curse words?

      Surely there are languages in the world that don't have such a ridiculous idea as "forbidden words". How do they get on?

      • Surely there are languages in the world that don't have such a ridiculous idea as "forbidden words".

        I highly doubt that, unless you're talking about an unknown cetacean or cephalopod language. Humans are good at putting up meaningless restrictions because we know our young like to push barriers. We would rather have them say "naughty" things and feel like they've pushed a real boundary than have them do something that society abhors (crime) because it is the only barrier to push.

        • Actually... (Score:5, Informative)

          by ryzvonusef ( 1151717 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:54AM (#33663638) Journal

          I have heard that Japanese doesn't have any words that could be considered to be profane per se. At least, that's what quite a few manga scanlation translators have asserted on their posts, when they have deign to explain :D

          Instead, the Japanese seem to utilize impoliteness and rudeness. So instead of a special word like "Freddy Uncle Charlie Kent", they have a rude form of the word "YOU!", which will serve the same purpose

          • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @12:43PM (#33664568)

            Many languages are actually like that.

            Sotho is an example. While some words are considered "swearing" in parts with heavy English influence (i.e. in South Africa, all the words corresponding to English profanity), this was not traditionally the case and is still not the case in other parts (i.e. Lesotho). I'm still trying to learn the language, so I can't give much detail.

            The Japanese language, since you mentioned it, has to take into account the complex social hierarchy (which is based on Confucian ideas). Once again my Japanese is not too good, so everyone feel free to add to/correct this.

            A word such as "temee" (probably the "you" that you referred to) is considered rude not because the word itself is inherently evil, but because it does not properly reflect the relation between the status of the speaker and the addressed.

            If I'm your senior (in age, in the workplace, or in basically any other way) your calling me "temee", "omae", "kimi", "anata" or any one of a number of words used for English "you" would be a very bad idea. Each of these does, however, have situations to which they apply.

            Let's say that you and I are men, that we are very good friends, and that there is no relationship of seniority. "Omae" would fit perfectly.

            Let's say that I'm some random guy of no real importance. "Anata" would do.

            Things get even more complicated when you begin to include sarcasm. "Kisama" is a very formal form of "you". In fact, it's so formal that it is only ever used sarcastically. But you can not be sarcastic with any other word. Never. ;)

            You can see where this is going.

            As for the things normally used for swearing (religion, bodily functions, etc.), there is much truth to what you said. Example: "Kuso" may translate to "faeces" in some more formal contexts. It can also be used as an expletive ("Shit!").

            Japanese does have words for sex, but they're not really used all that much. (Despite the fact that the Japanese don't share the Victorian mindset of "sex is dirty and no-one is doing it".) Merely having euphemisms doesn't make a word streng verboten.

            Sorry for the core dump.

      • by nizo ( 81281 ) *

        http://news.discovery.com/human/f-bomb-swear-curse-words-biden.html [discovery.com]

        Also apparently Japanese does not have many/any swear words? It does have offensive words/phrases like any other language of course.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by g2devi ( 898503 )

      Curse words really have no purpose.

      There are two common uses of curse words:
      (1) An expression of spontaneous bad emotion.
      (2) As way of hurting someone else without really thinking.

      The first purpose already has an international language. If someone in any culture hits their hand with a hammer, they all use the same sounds whether or not they ultimately say a curse word. Curse words add no value.

      The second usage is just plain laziness. If you really want to put someone down, you should put some thought into i

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by russotto ( 537200 )

        The first purpose already has an international language. If someone in any culture hits their hand with a hammer, they all use the same sounds whether or not they ultimately say a curse word. Curse words add no value.

        Turns out that swearing is a natural analgesic: Scientific American article on the subject [scientificamerican.com]

        The second usage is just plain laziness. If you really want to put someone down, you should put some thought into it.

        Thoughtless use is not the only use. Nobody could 'cleverly' refer to the case of Ar

  • by Joebert ( 946227 )
    No shit Sherlock !
  • by royallthefourth ( 1564389 ) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:36AM (#33662128)

    When those children are adults, it will no longer be considered profane. Problem solved.

  • disgraceful (Score:5, Funny)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:37AM (#33662132)

    as my toddler would say, that's fucked up!

  • Adults too. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:37AM (#33662144)
    Monkey see, Monkey do. I have noticed an increase in the amount of swearing that adults do too. I'm guessing also that parents aren't beating their children (spanking) or rinsing their mouth out (with liquid dish soap) as much either.
    • I'm guessing also that parents aren't beating their children (spanking) or rinsing their mouth out (with liquid dish soap) as much either.

      Oh yes, the fantastic lesson of "If someone does something you don't want him to, harm him".

      It works wonders.

    • Re:Adults too. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tophermeyer ( 1573841 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:55AM (#33662442)

      One thing I've noticed is that adults are less likely to call other adults out on profanity around children. I remember as a kid going to baseball games it was pretty unusual for someone to swear and not be called out on it. The swearing happened, as a kid I was aware of it, but I also saw the adults around me taking the time to ask the person to mind their language.

      Maybe I'm just old and cranky, but that kind of thing doesn't happen as much anymore. Adults are either a lot more tolerant or much more timid in engaging the lewd individual and asking them to stop. I miss that.

      • Re:Adults too. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:04AM (#33662606)

        I think the distinction between "private" and "public" language has decreased. It used to be that vulgar words weren't used in common discourse with strangers, or in public forums, or in mixed company. These words were reserved for use with your buddies, a "men's language" if you will, and were used only rarely, or for strong effect, by women.

        A lot of these distinctions have decreased with the spread of mass-market media that depicts these words used commonly. I think this was initially a way to make movies and television shows feel more authentic and real, closer to the common language of people, with the result being that the spoken language of the US as a whole has become more common.

        I think as the words have become more common and less laden with shock value, adults concern about their children hearing or using them has diminished. So I suspect adults are just less shocked to hear others use these words in public and realize the futility of trying to prevent their children from hearing them when they are likely to hear them in movies or on television anyway.

        • Great! Maybe we'll all be forced to learn how to communicate instead of being shocked senseless by a word someone says.

  • My grandparents said the same thing about my parents.
  • The more people do things, the more they think is normal, the more culturally accepted that is.
    • by qwijibo ( 101731 )

      Everyone can see the world going to hell around them, so it would simply be misleading for kids to say "we will be burdened by the out of control debts of our predecessors" when everyone knows it's more accurate and succinct to simply say "we're fucked."

  • Anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:39AM (#33662186)

    My nephew just turned 4 a little while back. Sadly, he has a speech impediment that has made him difficult, if not impossible, to understand until very recently. Over over the past 6 months or so his speech has improved considerable and we finally know... that the kid swears like a sailor, he's probably been swearing for years and no one ever knew it. Seriously, we're all in the kitchen and we hear "Holy shit!" come out of the living room, go in to see what's going on and he's watching Sesame Street. Obviously we tried and failed to not laugh, so I can't imagine we helped the situation any.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by roman_mir ( 125474 )

      Well, that's the values that Sesame Street is pushing onto the kids these days. Be happy you didn't walk onto him while he was having a joint with a couple of bitches.

      I wonder how his 'holly shit' sounded before that time: hoooueee siiiid

    • When my son was in kindergarten we were visiting my parents. Everyone was sitting around a table talking and laughing, and all of a sudden my 5 year old son says "kiss my pussy", and laughs. Everyone got quiet and looked at him. I calmly asked him why he said that, and he said the girls on the school bus said it to each other all the time and then laughed. While I explained to him that the phrase was not one he should use, and not just because it didn't apply to his anatomy, I couldn't help thinking tha
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:40AM (#33662204)

    ... blame the parents. The media just reflects what is acceptable to society.

    I've always wondered though why Americans get so upset about bad language and sex, but violence on TV is ok for children to watch.

    • by r7 ( 409657 )

      The media just reflects what is acceptable to society

      No it doesn't. The media reflects what sells. Any correlation with social values is purely coincidental.

      One thing you have to keep in mind, when reading the OP, is that this is the perspective of someone who watches a lot of TV, and hangs out with other people who watch a lot of TV.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The media just reflects what is acceptable to society

        No it doesn't. The media reflects what sells. Any correlation with social values is purely coincidental.

        One thing you have to keep in mind, when reading the OP, is that this is the perspective of someone who watches a lot of TV, and hangs out with other people who watch a lot of TV.

        No, the censors are the ones who determine what appears before the audience and what does not. The MPAA is an unaccountable body that considers views of the sex act, or even references to it, to be less acceptable than views of someone getting his head blown off. What the market actually wants has very little to do with it.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      What planet are you from? The media reports edge cases over and over again until it becomes so often it becomes 'normally'.
      Stop using the sex/violence false dichotomy. There separate things and the deserve different conversations.

    • This is rather insightful. I wonder the same thing. Profanity and sexuality are considered inappropriate for children to observe, yet we consider violence to be acceptable? None of them are acceptable!

      I was in HS when South Park first began. There was this one occasion where I was fixing the computer of a family, and their 8 and 9 year old children were watching the show. Sure, I enjoyed the show, and watched it on a regular basis. At that time, I was a very different person than I am now. Spewing ou

      • by qwijibo ( 101731 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:33AM (#33663186)

        my sister is quite possibly the most selfish and arrogant person to walk this planet

        This is the kind of unnecessarily wordy language that confuses young kids. It's much easier and more accurate to say "my sister is a bitch" which everyone understands more clearly.

        Today's children aren't potty mouths, they're just much more efficient in their usage of words. Why sugar coat something when the efficient bad words are commonly accepted?

      • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
        Those are cartoons. Cartoons are for children. Hence those are acceptable for children to watch. And learn from.

        Whoops, that's a different idiotic American attitude than the one we're talking about....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wondafucka ( 621502 )
      Why blame anyone at all? What is wrong with a child swearing, other than that some adults prefer to believe a lie about children and innocence.

      The world is a dynamic place full of unfathomable joy, and unrelenting shittiness. We should have a full vocabulary and worldview to express and conceptualize this.

    • You know I always wondered why many parents were happy to watch TV/Films about murder rape torture etc. Things we really hate and would never allow our children to do.
      Yet forbid them from watching shows about/including sex. The one activity we all take great pride in doing (Slashdot meme's notwithstanding).

      The only explanation I have for this is while all parents seem to want to become grandparents some day, they don't want to become grandparents too soon.
      Or it could be linked to the negative connotation of

  • I don't swear for the hell of it. Language is a poor enough means of communication. We've got to use all the words we've got. Besides, there are damn few words anybody understands -- Spencer Tracy (Inherit the Wind).

    That said, we never curse in our house. Neither have our children (age 10 and 8) other than to ask about a word they've heard.

    • The natural act of copulation.
    • A body part possessed by around half the inhabitants of the planet.
    • A device constructed with the sole purpose of committing the mass murder and maiming of as many people as possible.

    One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong.

    • by thijsh ( 910751 )
      You hit the nail on it's head. What is offensive to some is only natural to others, and the other way around.
      Objectively I'm inclined to agree that 'bomb' registers higher on a natural 'offensive-scale'. But I firmly believe no word can truly be 'offensive', it's only the intent...

      I personally only take offense at people taking offense...
  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:44AM (#33662288)

    Swearing is relative to a perceived base.

    On the old people stodgy baseline it is all swearing, even "boobies".
    On the young people base line "fuck" is emphasis mark.

    Language changes. Swear words are something that change quite quickly.

    • Exactly.

      While the vernacular changes, the words also take on additional meaning. 20-30 years ago, "shit" was more of an exclamation than anything else. Now, it's a stand-in for nearly any noun in the language. Terms like "I don't give a shit," "I have to get my shit together," and "...and shit" weren't really as common then. Now that the term has become common, it's passed from vulgarity into common acceptance.

      The "new" cuss words showing up can also be related to the important issues in today's society

    • Swear words are something that change quite quickly.

      There is some truth to that, in the sense that perception of vulgarity in certain words can seem to increase or decrease relatively rapidly with time, but on the other hand, most of the actual curse words we use are incredibly old from a linguistic perspective.

      Fuck has cognates all over the Germanic languages, and seems very close to the word futuere in Latin, so at the very least it dates to proto-Germanic with borrowing throughout Europe (hey, it's a goo

  • Maybe it's their damn parents imparting an unrealistic sense of self importance in them.
    Kids today think they can do what ever they dang well please since by and large their folks allow them to. I think this translates directly into these little monsters lack of proper social etiquette and respect for anyone around them.
    It would be interesting to further break this down into geographic subsets. Since I have lived in Germany, I have noticed that most folks put the hammer down on their little ones.
    I have neve

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Stop using what you see in the media as the example of how kids behave. The are polite and speak properly.

      Yeah, because only kids who are little followers and cow toe do you and give you imagned respect as raised by good parents.

      You don't wont kids, you want sheep.

  • by iONiUM ( 530420 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @10:56AM (#33662456) Journal

    I don't know how others feel, but I've never felt some sort of stigma against using swear words. The only time I refrain is when it's socially unacceptable (i.e. at a funeral) because then other people would potentially become upset towards me. At my funeral though? I'm going to encourage it. From the grave.

    • Agreed, I assign very little malice to a swear word. It's just a word, that a lot of people have decided is unacceptable, for some reason I fail to understand.

      For example: We can say sex as many times as we want on TV. But not fuck. Why not? What made the one vulgar but the other not? It seems horribly arbitrary to me...

      And why are people sad that the young generation no longer assign shock-and-horror to that word? Isn't that a good thing? We're LOSING a swear word!

      The only effect this will have is, that th

  • It's time to change the expression from curse like a sailor to curse like a 2-year old.

  • by dirk ( 87083 ) <dirk@one.net> on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:00AM (#33662524) Homepage

    I have never understood the stigma about swearing. They are words, just like any other. What really is the difference between saying "I took a dump" and "I took a shit"? They mean exactly the same thing, but for some reason shit is a dirty word.

    It is all about how you use words, not the words you use. You can be just as vulgar and mean without using "swear" words. Is it really less offensive for me to say "The best part of you squirted out of your father's substandard size penis and rolled down that chunk of lard your mother called a thigh" than for me to say "Holy fuck that is cool"?

    Words are just words, it's the meaning behind them that matters.

    • Telling people not to swear is basically censorship. Guess what- censorship doesn't work [youtube.com], as aptly demonstrated by this video.
    • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @01:43PM (#33665574) Homepage Journal

      It IS the meaning behind the words that matters and that's what's been diluted in "the words" by overuse. So much that we don't even separate swears curses and vulgarities by category anymore.

      At one time, "damn you" LITERALLY meant "I sincerely hope that God Almighty recognizes your irredeemable unworthiness and condemns you to burn in Hell for all eternity" where it was understood that both parties believed there was such a place and that a soul could be sent there to scream in agony literally forever. That would be a curse. No two year old even has enough understanding of things to muster the level of contempt for another required to utter that in sincerity.

      The vulgarities were a lesser form of contempt. By using one, you were implying that the person you were speaking to was unworthy of any better. However, overuse might lead others to conclude that you yourself HAD no better and were a low person yourself. That's why parents were so adamant about their children not using vulgarities.

      Obscenities were more of the nature of the vulgarities.

      The fact that we're far more likely to hear "damn you" on television than "fuck you" is strong evidence that we've forgotten how to properly curse at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Thud457 ( 234763 )
        Brings to mind the story how, Charleton Heston, you know, the guy who played Moses in The Ten Commandmandments, fought the censors to keep the line "Damn you. God damn you all to hell!" because as, he pointed out, Taylor was truly beseeching God to condemn the people who destroyed Earth to hell.

        I recall Joe Bob Briggs telling that anecdote while hosting Planet of the Apes on TNT's Monster Vision. Which, immediately after the commercial break, TNT, in their fine understanding of irony, ran the censored v
  • by toxonix ( 1793960 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:06AM (#33662656)
    These goddamn kids are diluting the strength of words. I'm going to have to get creative now. The trick I think is to combine things that multiply the strength of the words. Here are some examples of profane combinations, and please don't let the kids get wind of them:
    "Jesus Fuck!"
    "Christ's Tits!"
    "Mother of God's Firm Ass!"
    "Jesus Raped!"
    I could go on..
  • You say children as young as two years are saying "fuck"?

    Did anybody else think of this [youtube.com]?

  • These words will always exist. People will just come up with new ones. It's been done on TV enough. (Someone should compile a list of TV swear-words.)
  • by acidradio ( 659704 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:24AM (#33663032)

    This isn't much of a surprise to me anymore. In previous generations we idolized decent, intelligent, articulate and educated people. Somewhere it was decided that nobody can or should have to aspire to be any of those things and we should just aim for mediocrity because EVERYONE can be mediocre!

    At least in the US I am seeing this perpetual dumbing-down of the culture (some will argue here that the US culture was pretty dumb to begin with hehehe). Instead of "dressing for success" kids now wear these pants that sag down to their knees. This is a holdover from the prison culture where clothes are baggy and ill-fitting. Reality TV idolizes people who are often foul, vulgar, have no education and oh yeah, don't have any kind of gainful employment. What do we learn from shows like The Hills or Jersey Shore? Instead of keeping rigid and tough education requirements, public schools in the US have been dumbed-down so that "everyone gets a chance." Well I have some news - in the real world, nobody gets a chance, you have to work your ass off to get anywhere.

  • The less profane it will become, as it will be more accepted. At some point saying "fuck" in any way will cease to become a profanity.
  • I swear occasionally and sometimes more than I should. But I do make effort to keep it in check; for example, I never swear at work and I avoid swearing in front of my daughter. I don't have a problem with swearing, but I absolutely think it's a sign of class or lack thereof. Whenever I come across someone who's every second word is a swear they just come off as stupid like they don't care about having a good presentation. And too many people seem to have this immature notion that swearing makes you an adul

  • by wfstanle ( 1188751 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:36AM (#33663246)

    What do people who use foul language constantly say when they are really angry. You can't use foul language because there is no difference from the way you normally talk. I'm saying that swearing is OK but keep it to a minimum. I quickly take notice when people that rarely swear actually do swear, I know immediately that they are really ticked off.

      I once say a movie that used the F-bomb so often that it ruined the movie. The percentage of vulgarity was over half of the dialog. It was so bad that you couldn't tell if the actors were supposed to be angry.

  • It's just language. The notion of a "bad" word is so fucking adolescent it makes me giggle with disappointment. Why don't we have good words too? I propose "penis" be the official first "good word". Or we could all just work on something tangible..
  • Swearing in films (Score:5, Insightful)

    by feidaykin ( 158035 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @11:40AM (#33663318) Journal
    Kids swearing reminds me of a great scene in Misery. If you haven't seen the film it's worth watching, it's both intringuing horror and somewhat comical (both intentionally and unintentioally). Anyway, romance novel writer Paul Sheldon is being held captive by his insane fan Annie Wilks. She reads a manuscript for his as yet unpublished novel with a more serious tone, and this is her reaction:

    Annie Wilkes: It's the swearing, Paul. It has no nobility.
    Paul Sheldon: These are slum kids, I was a slum kid. Everybody talks like that.
    Annie Wilkes: THEY DO NOT! At the feedstore do I say, "Oh, now Wally, give me a bag of that F-in' pig feed, and a pound of that bitchly cow corn"? At the bank do I say, "Oh, Mrs. Malenger, here is one big bastard of a check, now give me some of your Christ-ing money!" THERE, LOOK THERE, NOW SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!

    It's a great scene, mainly because Kathy Bates is so convincing as the mentally deranged Annie. But it does bring up the sort of cognitive dissonance about swearing. What does it really damage? From a philosophical standpoint, it's kind of odd that we humans make words that are considered taboo in the first place. Words have only the power that people give them. For example, others have already mentioned how what's acceptable has changed, and on that subject, I recall talking to my grandmother once about movies she saw when she was a kid. One of them was Gone with the Wind, and when Clark Cable uttered his famous "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" line, she said there was audible gasp in the theater. I can't even imagine the string of profanities needed to make a modern movie-going audience gasp. Actually, I think a string of profanities would have the opposite impact today, people would likely find it absurd at start laughing. So yes, language evolves, but so does society. Perhaps we've moved beyond assigning such power to words. The only exception I can think of is racial slurs, those are more offensive today to many people than they ever were in the past. It's not uncommon to find elderly folks that drop the N-word, not out of hatred or malice, but because that was just what "everyone" called black people when they were growing up. Granted, some elderly folks that use racial slurs are also racists, but it's not necessarily the case either. Things change, and not everyone can or will adapt.
  • by RichardDeVries ( 961583 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @12:01PM (#33663798) Journal

    "If the word 'fuck' bothers you, I can only imagine how much fucking must bother you."

    - Bill Hicks

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.