Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Swearing

Last night we had the "swearing" talk.

See, my boys get big eyes and very worried looks when they hear me say things like this:

"Uncle Andrew is helping to fight the fire in California and just got stationed in Hell's Canyon."

Or, from the Bible, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Or, from More Adventures of the Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, "Tom and I rode on the seat of the buckboard with Papa who was driving our team of Bess and Dick."

Maybe I should enjoy this time when even "shut-up" and "stupid" are bad words in their every-day vocabularies. Because I'm guessing that soon enough, those and far more offensive words will be added. But I had to let them know that the way a word is used is often more important than what the actual word is. Sometimes.

Any word spoken in anger or hate can be offensive. Whether it's "darn" or "sugar" or "barnacles." I've heard some pretty offensive flips and fetches, that in my mind were no different than if the queen-mother-of-all-swear-words itself had been uttered.

On the other side of the coin, there are many words that are considered swear words, that are perfectly fine when used the right way. And there is no need to giggle or worry that you are saying the wrong thing.

"How do we know when it's OK to say a word that might be a bad word?" The kids asked. "Can we just say whatever we want as long as we aren't mad?"

Hmmm. Not exactly. I told them that if they were talking about a structure built by Beavers, or a place in California that has been affected by fires, or reading the scriptures, or a story about a man or animal who's name is short for Richard, then it's perfectly fine to say the words that describe those things.

They seemed to get it.

I just better not hear them holding their tongues and trying to say "ship."


Erika said...

Ya, or around here it's hold your tongue and say "beach". I'm totally on the same page as you when it comes to swearing. My kids do the exact same thing. We were reading in Mosiah the other night and "dumb ass" was in there. Of course it wasn't meant in a bad way ("Yea, and I will cause that they shall have burdens lashed upon their backs; and they shall be driven before like a dumb ass),
but my kids sure got wide eyes at that one! We got a good chuckle and had to explain to the kids what exactly it meant. It's awkward for them to read those words which I am so glad for. Hope they always feel awkward saying them!

a said...

Why is it that the quickest way for a child to get interested in learning a foreign language is for them to learn a bad word from that language? Perhaps we should make all nouns in foreign languages "bad words" and then our kids would have HUGE vocabularies, and we would have something to laugh at every day. Just a thought. Not one of my better ones.

shiguy4076 said...

I love that this is true for most kids and sometimes adults. You don't need to use swear words to get your point across and in the end if you do then you usually sound like WT. IMHO. On a funny note my little bro in law use to think Dick Van Dyke was a swear word

Amanda Dahl Larimer said...

I'm one who tries NEVER to say words that could POSSIBLY be swear words. I always say "heck" and "darn" in the bible or even in that hymn we sang last Sunday. It didn't rhyme, but I don't even want to start down that very slippery slope. Afton, could you please have the "textual meaning" talk with my kids? I'm never going to. ;)