By: Dakota Roach
To what extent should we be offended by language? At what point do we recognize that words are sounds, devoid of any meaning except what we give them? If this is our thinking, can there be the concept of “curse words?” Ultimately all words, curse word or not, represent either an idea or an object, and they themselves hold no real tangible power. So why is the idea of a single word so offensive, or a meaningless sound considered base?
Does a traditional “curse word” form a knot in your stomach? What gave it the power to do so, and why haven’t you taken that power back? Why should a word with no connotation upset you? Do you believe it is a sin to say such things? Then consider this: Once upon a time, curse words weren’t bad. People used these words in everyday language. They called female dogs bitches and donkeys asses, and nobody flinched. Everyone from children to royalty to preachers used these words and yet, they’re condemned in today’s society. Somewhere along the line the words “bitch” and “ass” were designated to be lowly forms of speech. The common thought became that only the poor and unintelligent used these words. As this idea spread, there arose this myth that speaking using such language would make you uneducated. As if knowledge were spiked with a spiel that would leak out onto the ground the more taboo words you spoke.
Slowly people became more wary of what they said, and mothers began to scold their children to, “watch their language.” The fear of being considered less intelligent, and other people judging you for what words you chose, spread until these words were used rarely at all. Thus, the words took on the nomer “curse words” if only because anyone who spoke them found themselves cursed to endure the judgement and shaming of others.
In reality, there is nothing wrong with those words, or any other “curse words” you may know of. So someone told you they were dirty words that represented dirty ideas, or that they weren’t words used in polite company. So what? This myth has grown so large that there are today some religious people who will tell you you will go to hell for cursing. Are you kidding? You know what the Bible lists as official curse words? There is only one word given the designation of “sinful.” It is this; God.
Yep, you read that right. God. God, as in the Creator of all things. God, the One Who Is Holy. That’s the only word the bible separates out as being bad for a person to say. Specifically, the bible says you should not take the Lord’s name in vain. So don’t use the word God without good reason. But that’s it! There’s the metaphorical line in the sand. There are no other words noted in any sacred Christian text as being “curse words.” Furthermore, there are no words listed in any other sacred text as being considered “cursed.” Does the Quran have a list of curse words? Nope. Does the Torah? No. What about Buddha, the spirits of Shinto, or the Hindu Gods? They don’t say anything either. The only “God” who designates certain words as being bad or cursed is man.
Mankind made up the notion of curse words to socially divide people. To put this in perspective, that would be like someone influential deciding overnight anyone who used the word “green” is unintelligent. Maybe the new word to describe the color is “emerald,” but not green. Anyone who still uses the word green is vulgar and out of touch with the world. So the next time you hear someone say the word “green,” feel free to tease, shame, and judge them. From a social standpoint, you are already engaging in this behavior by allowing yourself to be offended by the so called “curse words” of today.
Although you may be comfortable with keeping “bad language” as a social norm, do not be quick to dismiss the ridiculous and cruel way the idea got started. The only thing “wrong” with “curse words” is how so many people today feel about them. Keep in mind that once upon a time, fairytales had donkeys called asses and female dogs were referred to as bitches and children sat in school houses petting their pussies and the world was a much simpler place.
Dakota Roach, from Jacksonville, Illinois, is a junior majoring in English Literature and Creative Writing. Dakota is a Student Ambassador, an active member of CEA and SAGE, and is a writer for The Rambler.