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Swearing off a bad habit

Swearing as a linguistic choice is not my cup of tea. I have never been one to just drop the F bomb without any provocation to do so or to use such expressions such as “God d***” (see, I can’t even print it). Actually, I feel very uncomfortable even trying to use profanity.

Maybe it’s because my mother would have been aghast at my using such language and would have quickly put me in my place.

And her father, my Gedo, would have given me a stern lecture about using the Lord’s name is such a fashion. But it’s more likely that as a student of etymology, I feel there are much more eloquent ways to express one’s dismay or unhappiness than resorting to clichés and overused vulgar vocabulary.

Before you start thinking that I’m some sort of prude with outdated Victorian morals, let me assure you that is not the case. I must admit that one of my favourite go-to words when things are going awry is “sh**”. (Okay, I can just hear the exaggerated mocking gasps from some of you hardcore swearers.) But other than that occasional slip, very few blue streaks of unfiltered language come zipping from my lips.

Nor am I a fan of those individuals who punctuate every second word of their conversation with profanity. I am particularly annoyed by those folks who purposely do it just to impress or annoy others, or because they think it makes them appear more urbane or helps in a debate. Honestly, after a while I just quit listening.

However, there are a handful of my people that I know who have taken their swearing to a whole new level. As they string together a litany of phrases filled with cuss words and some fairly graphic imagery, I can’t help but be impressed. These folks have turned their swearing into an art form, and they don’t do so to impress others, but because it’s simply a matter of linguistic expression. Their sentence enhancers seem to be part of their very DNA. These folks should direct their creative talents into a more productive cause.

There is one significant advantage to not employing profanity on a regular basis – when you do cut loose, everyone takes notice. My own children knew I had reached my breaking point, and it was time to lay low and not mess with mom, when some ear-burning cussing came out of my mouth.

As a high school teacher, I knew that alternatives to swearing were necessary, since using some less-than-acceptable language with misbehaving students would never do. But I do remember one occasion when my exasperation with a grade 11 class led to a tense moment for those teenagers. As I sternly lectured those students, I chose my words very carefully. “Fffffor goodness sake!” I exploded in a long, exaggerated manner. To which one wide-eyed, worried-looking boy responded, “Oh, Mrs. Krawetz, you had us really worried there for a minute.”

See, sometimes not swearing works just as well, if not even better, when wanting to make a point.

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