I had an interesting debate on Twitter last night about swearing. I was surprised to see that so many people are offended by it, this then got be thinking about the language we use and why.
I mean, what is swearing?
Why are some words deemed more offensive than others? And why do some words shock or outrage, whereas others are totally acceptable?
It’s an interesting question.
Personally, I don’t find swearing offensive when used in context. In fact I think that it can give a statement potency and be very expressive when used correctly. However I am aware that this situation is not mutually agreed by all! I’m not however condoning abuse to individuals or organisations, not do I advocate that swearing should replace a strong vocabulary.
Words that I grew up with as traditional swear words have seeped more and more into day to usage. They have become more acceptable, and will now be used on mainstream media pre-watershed and certainly afterwards. In fact the watershed is rarely referred to these days if it even still exists?
They have also become more commonplace in the social media world, especially Twitter where you have a limit to how you can communicate. This has led to developments in language, to allow immediate effective communication and often a swear word is the most emphatic way to do this. Used correctly that one swear word can convey an emotion that explained in another way, one hundred and forty characters will not allow.
For example, ‘I don’t enjoy Mumford & Sons music as much as I’ve enjoyed other bands in the past’
OR put quite simply, ‘Mumford & Sons. #Shit ‘ (Incidentally, this was my review in a nutshell of their headline slot at Glastonbury last year and I think
I got my point across effectively!)
These words generally relate to bodily functions most notably sex and sexual acts. As media and society has become more sexually explicit and open so have those words become more acceptable.
As a flip side to this however other words have become increasingly unacceptable in some cases to the point of criminality. These words relate to prejudice of others for whatever reason. A lot of these words were commonplace in my youth. There were used freely and in my experience rarely challenged.
Twitter is absolute in its condemnation of these words. Users are called out and often reported. ‘Old school’ comedians on TV are judged as dinosaurs and have disappeared from our screens. All rightly of course.
This is why I don’t find swearing offensive because language and societies ideas will continue to evolve.
What shocks today will be mundane tomorrow, whereas surely today’s everyday ideas may become tomorrow’s stigmas and taboos?