On the Use of Language

To know me is to know that I have exceptional skills when it comes to profanity. I credit two organizations — my parents and the U.S. Army.

When I was young, perhaps 9 or so, my father and stepmother informed me that profanity was okay by them. And I took to it like a hungry lion to a lamed gazelle. In short, I devoured that motherfucker. (See?) All through my elementary and middle school years, I was so far ahead of the curve on the profanity use and abuse, that I shamed my classmates for their woefully inadequate attempts to express frustration, anger, and all other variety of emotion. By the time high school rolled around, I had exhausted all the possibilities and varieties of fuck, shit, damn, and so on. The art had grown boring, and others were catching up.

And then the Army rolled around and profanity transcended the expletive and became an adjective, adverb, and all-around modifier of every word in a sentence.

And it became a hard habit to break. Oh, I can keep it under control at the office, for example. But when I’m around friends and family, when I’m relaxed, the profanity, it just spills out of my mouth.

Just this last week, I met my girlfriend’s father for the second time, and her mom for the first, and I swore a blue streak without realizing I was doing it. And these aren’t people I want to offend, and I don’t want them to think of me as being one-dimensional, a typical schmuck.

I’m in love with their daughter and I hope to show them that I hold her in the highest regard, that I respect her and care about her, and that I’m a decent human being that always tries to do what is right, and is worthy of her affections.

So fearing that I’ve already started off on the wrong foot, I am looking to correct that. Quickly. There’s more to it than the girlfriend thing — this is something I want to do for me. Someone once said something to the effect that anyone who has to resort to profanity to express themselves is illiterate.

As a wannabe-writer, I’ve been thinking about that the past few days, and it’s sinking home.

Does this mean I’m going to start sounding like Ned Flanders when I talk? Hardly. I’ll leave you with a quote from Mark Twain, who said,

Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.

2 thoughts on “On the Use of Language”

  1. Well, Dave, here I had no idea you were reading this blog. Of course, no one ever comments here, so I really have no idea what kind of readership I have, beyond what Google Analytics tells me.

    Yeah, the “frak” thing…I dunno. It sounds contrived. Kate uses “friggin” to good effect, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s not the emotion behind the statement that makes it so impactful.

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