On Swearing

I didn’t grow up hearing a lot of swear words.
The strongest expletives in our house were bloody, darn, and crap.

These were discouraged and only used in dire circumstances.
The preferred expletives were jeepers creepers, cheez whiz, gosh golly gee, heck, and any vegetable (Brussels sprouts and green beans for example)

I am realizing that my relationship to swear words might be unusual.

Shit. If crap was bad, this was worse. Except that we were in a Mennonite-rich rural area. The ‘clean’ word for poop in low German sounded exactly like shit. When you hear your friends’ devoutly religious grandmothers using this word while talking about the chicken coop, it loses some of its edge.

Oh my god! Obviously we were never never to say this – the 10 Commandments don’t mention child abuse, but they do mention ‘taking the lord’s name in vain’. ‘Oh my gosh’ was pushing it.

Fuck. Didn’t know this was a verb. It was so taboo I actually don’t remember much about it until I read a writer friend’s erotic story where it was used in a very pleasure-positive affirming way.

Cunt. Didn’t hear this one at all. I first came across a book at the University library called “Cunt, A Declaration of Independence” by Inga Muscio. I like the word. It sounds strong, guttural and powerful.

For actual information on the history of swearwords see: http://www.medievalists.net/2013/11/08/by-gods-bones-medieval-swear-words/

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