Today we’d like to address a pet peeve of ours; too much profanity (we are using swearing and profanity interchangeably in this post) in the written and spoken word. We have strong opinions and are going to be bold in our assertions here, so beware and don’t be offended (or be offended, if you like!). Here are our best reasons to speak and write without excessive swearing.
Excessive Profanity makes you: Sound Dumb
Bubby: I can’t tell you how many novels I’ve tried to read that are just full of profanity. Yes, I understand that there such a thing as a well-placed epithet, used to convey strong emotion or to define a character, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m referring to the general overuse of profanity, especially the ubiquitous “F” word. Tell me, Sissy, when did the “F” word become a unilateral replacement for all adjectives, verbs and even nouns? For example. “That BLEEPer just totally BLEEPed up my BLEEPing truck!” Pretty sure I’ve seen that exact sentence recently…
Sissy: Pretty sure I’ve HEARD it. And that brings us to the meat of the issue: Overuse of profanity (swearing, cussing, what have you) means one of two things. Either the speaker/writer is in possession of a bad habit or their vocabulary is too limited to come up with creative, intelligent alternatives. Try instead, in the case of Bubby’s example, “That cretin just completely annihilated my magnificent truck!”
Bubby: Go read some Shakespeare. His characters insult each other ALL the time, yet every new swear is creative and well-constructed. Here’s a book you can look at if you’d like to incorporate such Shakespearean classics as “you fusty nut!” into your own vocabulary. Let’s also not forget that the “F” word has a biological definition and most of the time, it’s not even physically possible to do the action that’s being referenced. Think about it in the example sentence. That’s just nasty.
Sissy: Don’t think about it too much. It’s gross. On to our next point.
“Profanity is the inevitable linguistic crutch of the inarticulate”
Excessive Profanity makes you: Offensive
Bubby: The catchword of today’s society is tolerance. All too often, unfortunately, tolerance actually means that those with certain belief systems need to stop being offended by those who do not adhere to those belief systems. Tolerance goes both ways. Profanity involving religious references or deity is objectionable to many people. Excessive swearing and any use of the “F” word is offensive to us, so you won’t find us reviewing titles that contain either.
Sissy: If you’re concerned about damaging the feelings of the religiously inclined, adopting any religion’s deities as casual epithets is offensive. (Oh my God, By Allah’s Shorts, Sweet Merciful Ganesha, etc.) All bad. Don’t do it. As Bubby said, we love Shakespearean insults, but if you’d like a highly amusing and comprehensive list of “Christian-appropriate swear alternatives”, check out comedian Tim Hawkins’ video. Or buy the fridge magnet.
Excessive Profanity makes you: Unprofessional
Bubby: Obviously by “professional” we don’t mean Howard Stern’s Sirius XM radio channel or anything on HBO. We’re talking the news, network TV, regular radio and your quarterly earnings report for your boss. Can you imagine turning in a report saying, “Overall sales were up in the 3rd quarter, but those BLEEPing stuffed monkeys are selling like *&^%$.” Or how about the traffic report on your favorite local station? “Well, aside from that a**$#@% trucker who overturned his BLEEPing semi on the freeway, traffic is moving at a d*mn fine pace this afternoon.”
Sissy: One of the hallmarks of professionalism is word usage. My daughter recently listened to a presentation by an expert in her field during the work day. On the feedback card she wrote “Your use of language was distracting. I couldn’t tell if this was a presentation on email marketing strategies or 101 ways to creatively use the “F” word.” The use of profanity in a professional setting is not hip, cool, or trendy; it is distracting and dumbs down the user’s credibility.
There are many more reasons to check our word usage, including the fact that three-year olds copy everything we say, and that the health benefits of swearing only apply to sporadic use when expressing strong emotion or pain. In the end, our overarching message is simply this: Our language is full of creative, beautiful, and emotive vocabulary choices. We should break out of the boring, unprofessional, offensive box that is swearing and open ourselves up to a whole new, more intelligent sounding world of words!