Showing posts with label Swearing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Swearing. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A Hill Worth Dying On

“You need to dial down the language,
  Mr. Patout,” I said.

“Don’t you lecture me, boy,” he said.

— From The New Iberia Blues
by James Lee Burke

Some subjects are difficult to talk or write about without giving offense. The use of appropriate language is one of them.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

On the Mount (14)

Words are usually coined when we need to make useful distinctions not obvious in the current vernacular. If we have at our disposal a nice, precise bit of language to describe a particular concept, we generally use it. If we don’t, we have to either cobble ourselves together a new one from other familiar words (I’m currently fond of “crybully” and “humblebrag”), or borrow one from another language (schadenfreude is getting a little long in the tooth, but it’s still a beaut).

This is an ongoing process, for obvious reasons. Through repeated misuse, the semantic range of our existing vocabulary expands relentlessly until we get to the point that we can no longer make those useful distinctions that are such a critical component of communication.

All to say that if you can distinguish between the current, debased usage of “profanity” (offensive language), “obscenity” (morally offensive language) and “swearing” (profanity), good luck to you.

I can’t. Or really, this generation can’t.