Monday, July 13, 2015

I Swear

Yep.  I swear.  I curse like a sailor some days.  Depends on how pissed off I am or how relaxed I'm feeling.  And I don't think about it when I do it.

Some people curse for effect.  You can tell.  They swear and then glance around to see who might be listening and reacting.  Usually this is reserved for young people - testing out their naughty-wings.  You can also tell when a writer is trying to naughty up their manuscript.  The curse words are scattered like feed for the chickens.  It doesn't fit and it doesn't flow.

Some people only curse under extreme duress.  Whack your thumb with a hammer and !@#$%!  Get pushed beyond your threshold and the words come tumbling out: "OMbleepingG, you bleepity-bleep-bleep, you almost bleeping killed me!"

Some people curse because the words are just part of their lexicon.  I suspect this is where I fall.  I grew up around swear words being dropped in normal conversation.  It was 100% Dad.  (Mom didn't curse and still doesn't for the most part.)  And Dad's friends cursed.  There was one friend of the family who would make your ears turn blue.  He was just a colorful old guy, and the nicest man ever, and I loved him dearly - but man, could he swear.  We just knew to never repeat his words - at least not where any adult could hear us.  And we learned they were just part of life.

Recently, I posted a review to Goodreads and to Amazon.  Goodreads let it go through.  Amazon kicked it back because it was outside their guidelines.  Color me confused.  I went back and read the review, and sure enough, I'd dropped 'asshole' in the review without even realizing it.  "The villain was just the right amount of asshole."  I changed it to 'just the right amount of evil', but it's not the same.  This dude was more asshole than evil, if you know what I mean.  Hannibal Lecter = evil.  This dude was no Lecter.

Anyway, over the years, I've stumbled across people who are shocked and dismayed by my colorful language.  Mom, for one.  I try not to swear around her and when I can't help it, I apologize.  But it makes me wonder.  They're words - like any other - with no power of their own.  If a used a different word - a more socially acceptable word - but meant the same thing, how is that really different?  :shrug:

When I was in college, we used a campus wide chat system on the mainframe (yes, ancient chatting did exist in 1989.)  We were forbidden from using cursewords on the chat, and could lose our chat privileges if we were sussed out.  Since none of us wanted to lose chat (although looking back at my grades, I would've been better off), we devised a lexicon of our own.  Farging iceholes that we were.

Of course, there are different rules for different people.  Some people won't accept any of the big 7 (if you aren't familiar, George Carlin came up with The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television - and no, that link is NOT safe for sensitive ears, work, or Sunday dinner).  None of the big 7, plus no darn, dang, fart, etc.  Some people can't refer to their deity of choice by name, and others can, but only if it's not in a bad way.

I'm pretty liberal when it comes to words.  About the only one I won't say and cringe when I hear is the C word.  I don't know why, but that word has always bothered me.

I do try to be sensitive to other people out there in the world.  I cut back on the number of f-bombs in my books before they went to publication.  Seriously.  I did.  I can't cut them all out, or it wouldn't be natural to the characters.

What do you think? To swear or not to swear?


  1. I swear like a trooper! Ex-military, but I'm not saying that's why I swear or that all military personnel swear. My mum & dad were both ex-RAF and my mum swore a lot when we made her crazy - only a bloody hell or a damn though. F-bombs came into my lexicon when I got older and now almost everyone uses them. I try not to swear in "polite" company but at home or with friends I just let rip!

    I'm not keen on f-bombs etc being used in front of kids and, like you, I can't stand the C-word. I think most swear words sound bad but the C-word sounds like a anvil of nastiness being exploded against women, it's that vile. Does that make sense to anyone other than me?

    1. You were in the military? Too cool. Yeah, my dad was in the USAF - so I'm sure that contributed to his swearing, too.

      My problem is, I don't always notice there are kids around or that I'm swearing when they are. LOL, 'anvil of nastiness' - love it.

  2. LOL, I'm a swearer too...much to the consternation of anyone I've ever been related to.

    And I use the "find" function before my manuscripts go to my editor too.

    I once had an editor tell me that "a grown woman wouldn't say, 'Oh crap'...she'd say 'Oh shit'..." and I was like, "Um, I do."

  3. It has to flow naturally. There's lots of ways of saying something in English, and some are more natural than others. There's also the situation to consider, lots of people alter their vocabulary depending on where they are, or who they are with. If you've nailed your character, the words will sound natural. But putting swear words into the mouth of a character doesn't make them a tough guy, or a sailor, or anyone else that is traditionally considered a 'curser'.

  4. B.E., you've read me. What you read is what you hear. (Uhm...Hannah? Sade? Yeah...that part of their personalities came from me. LOLOL) I've used the C word but like you cringe. When I inserted it, it was because it fit the character, and it referred to body part not a person. I have a minor character in an upcoming book who WILL be called that because she is, it the worst possible way.

    I say crap. And $h!+. And the F-bomb. Right now, my favorite phrase is "Bloody blue big hairy donkey balls." I must work this into a conversation in a book.

    Oh, and I do watch my mouth around Stormegeddon. His mom? Not so much. Hrm...I wonder where Only got it from? *looks all sinnocent and $h!+*