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Old 09-13-2019, 08:49 PM
gaffa is online now
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 11,279
Here's something I remember from Penn Jillette's old column on Excite. He had it on his web site a long time ago, but it disappeared in a revision. It can only be found by looking on Hopefully it is obscure enough that the mods will let me quote it in full, as I'm pretty sure I'm one of the only people who remember it and the Dope should:

I've stopped swearing. I'm 42 years old and from the time I was 16, I talked like carnies and rockers and truckers and sailors. I tried to talk like all the cool people, using obscenity for every part of speech. It seemed like a ticket into a special group of outsiders. I never used hard obscenity on stage, but I was always trying to slip expletives onto the radio (you do know that the FCC is unconstitutional on every front, right?). But in daily existence, I talked trash.

Several months ago, I went to see Slash's Snakepit at a venue in Vegas. He played his guit-box like a ringin' a bell. I was enjoying the show. After the third selection, when it was time for Slash to welcome us, he said, "Welcome. We're really glad to be back in the USA. We were in South America and those people didn't understand us. It feels good to be home.

But, he didn't use those words. I don't have a tape, and I wasn't taking notes, but the words he said were along the lines of, "Oh # man. How you #ers doing? It is so #ing great to #ing be #ing back in this #ing coun-#ing-try. #, man, #. I mean, #. #, man, #. I mean #. Down there, well, #, they #ing don't #ing speak #ing English, man. #. #, it's so #ing great to #ing be here.

In the previous quote, "#" stands for the favorite root word of all wise-cracking, sophisticated, modern folk (it also drove my spell checker nuts). That magic word can be used for every part of speech (yes, its function can even be Conjunction Junction).

I sat in the balcony wondering if I sounded like that. I started becoming more aware of swearing. I had an epiphany -- I realized no one thought I was talking like a carney. They thought I was talking like a mall kid. Nowadays, who knows how carnies talk? It's like tattoos. They used to mean you were on the bally, in the joint, or on the sea. Now, tattoos and swearing just mean you've been to Tower Records. Even mall T-shirts proclaim the magic word.

I still use all those words, even the "C" one that still has some small amount of integrity and magic. However, I only use them for their literal meaning. If I'm talking about real sex, I don't talk baby talk. You won't catch me "making love," "doing it," or even "screwing." But I don't use obscenity as empty modifiers or even as a sexy synecdoche.

My decision to stop swearing is not a moral position. It's not to be polite. It's not to fit in. Quite the opposite. It makes me say what I mean and that's often not polite. Not swearing takes my rants off auto-pilot. Not swearing makes me think. It gives those words their original magic in their literal meanings. It makes them sexier when I'm talking about sex.

I started stopping swearing with some friends. It's difficult, but it's pretty fun. We say more of what we mean. We've started making it clear whether we're displeased with someone for their morals, their style, their hygiene, or their looks (all valid reasons). We no longer label them all with one compound body part metonym. We've become more precise. There's more information.

When someone is talking nonsense, it's bolder, more aggressive, and less acceptable to say, "No, that's not true," than to shout a friendly, ho-hum, reference to bovine fecal matter. Not swearing is not the right thing to do. It's not the classy thing to do. It makes the truth plainer and that's rarely society's view of polite.

There is a downside. Last night I banged the little toe of my right foot hard on the door jam in the middle of the night. I had nothing to say.
Old 09-13-2019, 08:52 PM
gaffa is online now
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 11,279
By the way, two possibly three of Carlin's "Seven Words" are no longer on the list. First was "tits" which I first heard un-bleeped on the Johnny Carson show used by two members of Duran Duran as "on my tits". Then it was "piss", and eventually "shit."

What will be the next to fall?
Old 09-14-2019, 03:28 AM
eunoia's Avatar
eunoia is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Outside Poker Flat
Posts: 1,718
I say fuck often. When I'm playing video games it's ridiculous, my swearing is closer to Tourette's that doesn't make sense.

I don't think it's overused on TV and movies. There's a lot of fuck in real life.
Old 09-14-2019, 07:43 PM
Tride is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 51
Midnight Run is the pinnacle, the ne plus ultra of swearing in a movie IMHO. And the cast is perfect. In the clip above the worst curse is not "go fuck yourself" but "you slimeball swimming in a sea of pus!" Not an expletive in the sentence, but pretty evocative.

3 decades in construction and you can imagine what the vocabulary becomes. Also, the "book" "Shit My Dad Says" has some excellent swearing by a nuclear medicine research doc with few filters. Well worth a copy in the bathroom.


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