Sunday, April 16, 2006

On oaths

In Nigeria one often has to watch one's language in the face of uptown linguistic prudery. Brought up in a household where words like obstreperous and obnoxious (usually applied to me) sat alongside words like fuck and bollocks, I have a healthy appreciation of the whole gamut of the English language, from hi-fallutin greco-latinisms to hoi polloi saxon.

I agree with those who object to swearing as a fallback in the absence of vocabulary; but what of those who pride themselves on big words and small? There's sometimes nothing better than saying fuck, with all its fleshy directness and resonances of violent desire. And bollocks has a vital role to play in summoning those ugly male appendages to project onto the situation at hand. Swearing is, therefore, a good thing. So long as one knows what words like hypostatise mean as well.


grace,  6:18 pm  

I personally prefer 'shit' and/or 'bullshit'. The first is reminiscent of powerless (yet mischievious) frustration. And the second is effective in stopping longwinded patriarchal loudmouths in their tracks.

grace,  6:19 pm  

In my experience.

Akin 7:20 pm  

I never use expletives in terms of profanity in my conversation and I do take exception to people who it to force through their ideas or views.

When I worked in IT support many years ago, a user rained down a barrage of profanities about a problem he was having.

I calmly told him, "I am sorry, I do not get paid enough to be addressed and insulted down the phone like that".

"Please call back when we can calmly address your problem and resolve it properly".

I put down the phone and in two minutes, I got a call with a profuse apology.

Not many people can get away with taking that stance, but people eventually learn how to address you properly.

In some places, my name is like an expletive because due diligence and process matters for getting things right, the first time - I usually enforce those rules.

Being English, there are too many ways to say things that people lapse into profanities for, with all the sanctimony I can muster - I take the higher view for better use of expression.

Living in the Netherlands, I need to balance rich expression with communicating to people whose mother-tongue is not English. I invaribly err towards rich expression for my faults, but educate in the process.

If I may - England expects everyman to speak properly.

Ayoke,  9:00 pm  

Swearing is a 'no no' for me. Sometimes, 'damn' almost extricates itself from my lips but I try hard to keep it in. No. I don't think swearing can be reckoned as a high point.

the flying monkeys 9:44 pm  

I would agree with Jeremy. There are a variety of interesting words which can place appropriate emphasis in the right context, providing you do not offend those in your presence, although, this is not to say there is a time and place for everything. In this respect, abuse of the socially constructed concepts such as fucking bollocks could be used with discretion.

funke,  7:21 pm  

Nothing beats 'Shitty Death!'

Monef 8:06 pm  

Expletives are extremely important.....very often there is no substitute for the emotion you are attempting to convey.

j 9:17 pm  

I prefer bullshit

Nkem 6:57 am  

it's all a load of bollocks anyway...

eshu 8:58 am  

What a load of claptrap,

baba sala,  2:03 pm  


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