Great comments on the Swearing post. Who knew? Sheila’s comment, in particular, reminded me of a conversation I had many years ago with someone. We were talking about how some people use “fuck” as punctuation. Of course my addled brain can’t come up with an example right now. Investigating this might make listening to those teenagers a lot less tedious. Linguistic research, haha!
As I hope was clear in the original post, the argument against swearing that I find most compelling is the laziness argument. It is lazy use of language sometimes. And sometimes laziness is fine. But a lot of the time, we should just try harder to express whatever emotion we want to express. And having a wider vocabulary is always more interesting than using the same words all the time, regardless of whether they are swear words or not. I think of Julie’s attempts in her Bravewriter materials to get kids to go beyond “cool” as a description. Or my attempt to get Tigger to go beyond “it was good” when telling me about a book she read.
Which comes back around to the original point (mine and Pinker’s, I think), that swear words are not any different from other words. Yes, sometimes we want to offend or shock people. Yes, sometimes we want to insult or humiliate people. Yes, sometimes we want punctuation in oral speech. Far better to focus on expanding vocabulary and dealing with uncomfortable emotions than to make a list of “naughty” words.