GMIM: Words

Welcome to another installment of Good mourning, it’s Monday! This weekly blog looks to cover various topics in the news, along with personal stories or encounters from the past week at home and work to help you through your first day back at work (unless you don’t work). Hopefully my seven followers like this and share this to make it eight. Enjoy…

Today’s edition of Good mourning, it’s Monday! will dive into the very thing that makes up these blogs: words. It’ll be a bit of a history lesson and of course, a complaint for another glorious Monday. Let’s get to it, folks.

Profanity

I was listening to Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub last week on the way to work when Toucher & Rich got into the use of profanity on television and radio. As of late, cable television has been lenient on the use of some “bad words” during its night-time programming. T&R brought this up because Comcast Sports Network New England has been allowing some of it’s later night shows to allow profanity on air. Fred Toucher made the point that allowing profanity would allow hosts and others on air to fully express their opinions with having a block or filter in his/her head.

The discussion led me to writing today’s blog and proposing the question: what’s so bad about bad words? Why can’t I type the word “fuck” without it being such a glaring part of my writing? What is the worst thing that’ll happen if I type a few “shits” here and there in my blogs? Is my credibility (whatever little I have) compromised if I call Sidney Crosby a bitch? And how about other platforms, is it so bad to hear me say these curse words? It’s a complex subject (I think), so let’s travel down the rabbit hole of swearing.

A brief history of bad words

After reviewing numerous scholarly articles, I decided to read the Wikipedia page for profanity. The term “profane” originates from classical Latin “profanus,” literally “before (outside) the temple.” It carried the meaning of either “desecrating what is holy” or “with a secular purpose” as early as the 1450s. (Thanks, Wiki.)

For you simple folk out there, basically comparing anything holy or religious to something unpleasant and repulsive was considered a swear word. So if someone compared a popular religious figure to poop, then we get a curse word. Eventually, people carried this over to regular folk and started calling each other shit heads and stuff.

The super fancy technical terms, such as “defecate” or “fornicate” have Latin origin. But we can thank the Germans for words like “fuck” and “shit,” as those have Germanic roots. German . . . it’s a beautiful language I tell ya.

Some terms to describe profanity include, but are not limited to:

  • swears
  • curse words
  • bad words
  • coarse, foul, lewd, vulgar, or strong language
  • cussing
  • choice words
  • French (the Germans got off on this one, folks)

Research has shown that swearing can help alleviate pain when suffering an injury, especially stubbing your toe.

A three-country poll conducted in July 2010 concluded that Canadians swear more often than Americans and British while talking to friends.

Bad words abroad

Here in the United States, foul language is used on a causal basis and all depends on the situation people are in. Using a term like “work was hell” isn’t exactly considered coarse, but telling your grandmother “I had a fucking shitty day” may not go over well with 96-year-old Agnes. Words like “hell, damn, crap, ass, tarnation, or tookus” are considered child’s play in the world of bad words. But dropping words like “shit, fuck, dick, prick, or bitch (if describing a woman)” will provoke some negative feelings or reactions. Let’s not forget the almighty curse word that’ll make a few readers cringe: cunt.

There, I typed it.

CUNT

There it is again. Are you offended? Well, you shouldn’t be, because I didn’t call you one.

But go to Australia and the word cunt is tossed around in chatter with buddies like it’s a necessary part of the conversation. Yes, it’s still offensive, but only if it’s meant to be. “You’re such a dumbcunt” would be a fine example of calling someone a dumb ass in the States, but telling someone they’re a “one tough cunt” after winning a fight would be a compliment and equivalent to an American calling someone a “tough bastard.”

The Britts have some swear words that, quite frankly, Americans wouldn’t exactly consider words at all. “Wanker” is a vulgar slang for an individual who masturbates, which doesn’t really seem like much of a swear but we’ll go with it I guess. Then we have “arse,” which is ass, but we remove one letter and add two more.”Bloody” is tossed around in England, but that’s more of an expression of anger and very, very low on the bad word list across the pond. A bloody good time would be like a damn good time here in America.

We could get into more languages other than English, but quite frankly I don’t give a shit. Moving on!

Cursing in pop culture

When having any sort of conversation about the subject of profanity, especially in pop culture, it’s unavoidable to mention the great George Carlin. Even 45 years later, Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” skit remains the best comedy bit on profanity. The blunt approach to curse words actually had Carlin arrested for disturbing the peace after performing the routine at Milwaukee’s Summerfest on July 21, 1972. If you have yet to watch it, enjoy…

From 1993-2005, NYPD Blue was the staple TV cop drama on ABC. It was full of controversy however, because the show frequently featured intense violence, nudity, and (you guessed it) strong language. The show’s writers went back and forth with the network and FCC to allow the material to be aired. It was unprecedented at the time, especially for a show airing on a major television network.

NYPD Blue was allowed to air with its depictions of crime and characters saying the word “shit.” This led to one of South Park’s best episodes, “It Hits the Fan.”

The episode focuses around a TV cop drama premiering a new episode that’ll have a character say the word shit, basically like NYPD Blue. The broadcast eventually leads to everyone accepting the use of the word, causing a shitstorm in the town if you will, and eventually chaos ensues. South Park’s developers were surprised that Comedy Central allowed the show to not just say shit, but to say and reference it over 200 times uncensored. The episode featured a “shit counter” on the bottom, and averaged one “shit” every eight seconds. Here is the shitty short version of the episode:

On September 21, 2001, Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants aired episode 15 of season 2, better known as “Sailor’s Mouth.” It remains one of my favorite episodes not just for Spongebob, but for most shows I’ve watched. For those unfamiliar, Spongebob and Patrick learn a new word that’s written on the dumpster behind the Krusty Krab. All of the bad words are censored by either dolphin noises or other aquatic-related noises. Enjoy the full episode here:

Swearing in print media

Although the print industry isn’t exactly held to the same standard as television, newspapers take it upon themselves to set policies and guidelines concerning the use of profanity in stories. Magazines have the same deal, but most of them are pretty laid back. Major newspapers in big cities across the country tend to self-censor by including some letters of a curse word, like f****r or sh*t. Most of the time, they’ll tip-toe around the word by describing it in detail. For example, if a politician calls someone a “faggot,” the newspaper will say something along the lines of, “the Senator then referred to the individual as a homophobic slur.” The New York Times published an op-ed in the March 31, 2014 edition of the paper titled “The Case for Profanity in Print,” written by Jesse Sheidlower. It’s a great piece on how tip-toeing around words and issues takes away from the significance of the story.

On August 3, 2016, The Times posted a video on its website from several Trump campaign rallies, capturing the unfiltered voices and language from Trump supporters. It’s a great example of how providing uncensored material can help tell a story.

https://graphics8.nytimes.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000004533191

Conclusion

We’ve touched upon a hell of a lot so far. It’s a lot more writing and reading than we should be doing on a Monday, but when I have an opinion, I just roll with it I guess.

I’ve always been taught that there’s time and place for everything, including our words. We can use curse words in moderation and make them count. It is America after all and the First Amendment is strong as fuck. This doesn’t mean we can walk into a school asking to pick up our shithead of a child, but we can relax in other places and platforms.

Newspapers and news organizations have an obligation to hold individuals accountable if they use words in an inappropriate manner. For our glorious leader, Trump should be accurately quoted after his “grab them by the pussy” comments without tip-toeing or censor. Thankfully, numerous news networks played the audio uncensored and held him accountable. It was good enough to have him elected president.

Television is, in my opinion, the worst when it comes to censoring language. Movies on television have no problem with high levels of violence, death, guns, and more, but once a pair of boobs is shown or a character says shit, the FCC steps in to do their thing. I couldn’t find the actual clip, but if memory serves me right, the Saw franchise has been featured on some cable networks like Spike or somewhere else. It’ll take out curse words and nudity, but has no problem with featuring blood and gore. I guess that makes sense.

A pet peeve of mine is when newscasts or sports post-game shows feel the need to apologize for language used by a player or fan. When baseball players have to take questions after all 162 games, good or bad, does ESPN or anyone else truly expect the players to be happy every time? At some point when a camera is in the face of a player in his personal space in the locker room, he’s eventually going to say “we played like shit.” But the reaction from Mr.SportsHostGuy? “Alright, well we apologize for the language used there.” Dude, what the hell did you expect? I’d be pissed too if you recorded me and asked questions while I was trying to get changed. Besides, what makes a better point, the team played poorly or the team played like shit?

None of this is to say I think we should have free range to say fuck at all time. I won’t be filling my blogs with curse words left and right, nor will I be saying fuck in front of old ladies any time soon, but you’ll continue to see the occasional “shit” or “dick” and perhaps a few “douche bags” in these blogs. I’ll continue to be honest and use my voice, and you should too.

And if you don’t like it, there’s the fucking door.

Mispronounced words and incorrect phrases

If you’ve ever engaged in a causal conversation with me, then you’ve probably noticed I stutter a bit, think faster than I speak, and don’t exactly possess an expansive vocabulary. I wouldn’t say talking to me is like having a conversation with Jimmy from South Park, but I certainly am no Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m not an English expert, but there are a handful of words and phrases that piss me off when used incorrectly. I may or may not have pronounced “crayon” as “cran” when growing up, but I’ll be damned if anyone goes about these words in the wrong way.

Reese’s Pieces
I think I fight with every single person I’ve ever come in contact with regarding this one. Everyone I ask pronounces it “ree-see’s pee-see’s” because they think the original candy is called “ree-see’s.” It’s not. The name is Reese, not Reesie, hence it’s pronounced like “rees-iz.” Then they’ll carry this logic over and create a new word pronounced “pees-sees.” IT’S SPELLED PIECES! Why are you making a fake word to rhyme with your mispronounced word? The words rhyme, but you dummies make up different words to rhyme incorrectly. Here’s a commercial to prove all of you wrong.

Right of way
I don’t believe this is as common, but it’s the type of thing that makes me wonder if people think before they say something. When driving, certain cars can go first or are able to pass before others. This is called “right of way,” because you have the “right” to go that “way.” See? Simple enough.

But some people believe it’s right away. Ok, if said quickly, it might seem this way, but then what’s the logic in the phrase? Again, you have to think about it before saying it. What pushed me with this however was when listening to the radio and a host said the reason why it’s called right away is because the car on the right goes first, whether it’s on the highway or at an intersection. Yes, this was his actual reasoning, and I wanted to punch my car radio.

Ur
This one is a little different and I hate to admit this, but I used it in my younger years when chatting on AIM was cool. People always mess up your and you’re or there, their, and they’re. Sometimes auto-correct is to blame, but if you’re a grown adult typing ur instead of your, then you’re a certified asshat. I’l give a pass to anyone who texts “gotta” since people pronounce it like that (even though it’s clearly wrong), but ur does not sound anything like your. Get it right.

Literally
This goes out to all the teenage white girls who can’t even. When used correctly, literally helps drive a point home or describe a funny story, but you don’t “literally like, cried so hard.” Literal is by the book, meaning exactly the way you are saying it. It’s not loosely based or almost like it. If you literally shit your pants, I expect to smell crap when standing next to you. The misuse of literally drives me figuratively insane.

Dubs
I actually had to use Urban Dictionary for this one. A dub is the slang term for “w,” coming from the pronunciation of the letter “double-U.” Most people say dubba-you, so we get dub. “I’m due for a dub in Madden” would be appropriate for slang featured chatter. But my search for the definition of dub or dubs stemmed from a certain basketball team located in the Golden State. Yes, the stupid Dubs as they are called and now that I know the reasoning, I hate it more. Same with B-dubs for Buffalo Wild Wings. Your nickname is stupid. As for basketball, Dubs was the term coined by fans for Warriors back in 90’s, which is weird because I was under the impression Warrior fans have only been around for three years.

Have any stories to share? Suggestions? Feedback? Send them to ZacharyAdamGray@gmail.com or Tweet me @ZacharyAdamGray

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