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Certain words, mere words, can offend people. I am not talking about racial or ethnic slurs, not about insults, and not about physical violence. These are words that have synonyms that are used every day in ordinary conversations. These words are spoken and heard without incident, and without offense.
Shit, fuck, bitch, damn, Hell, Jesus (Christ). Feces, sex, dog, darn (or oops), afterlife, Nazeraith. There. Now, the world's toughest question on any subject; WHY? Why are certain words "bad" yet synonyms of these words are fine? Would you be offended if somebody called you a dog or a son-of-a-dog? Not as much as if bitch was used in its place. I drop something on my foot. I say shit (or fuck, bitch, damn, Hell, or Jesus) and somebody says, "Hey! I'll hear none of that around here!" Why? If I had said oops, or in some places damn, nobody would have cared.
There was originally little difference between such words as shit and feces, or fuck and sex. People just didn't want to hear these words, so they became "intolerable," "bad" words. Because of this, they became "profanities," in that they were used as exclamations or interjections that had little to do with their original definitions. In fact, these words are two of the most versitile words in the English language, fitting almost any situation not involving a person who would frown upon hearing the word. Is this why? How childlike! Ooh, that's a bad word! We won't hear it; "let's blacklist it!." Are we really that low? Vocabulary can get around anything. These swears are banned from the radio waves, so new ones have evolved; Doe, dang, darn, fudge, b-s, bull, nuts, gosh-darn-it, oh-diddilly-darn, and the recently accepted/discovored bitch and bastard are amoung a few of the words used instead of the "bad" profanities with the four letters. Maybe we shouldn't tolerate hearing the four letter word, love!
Why are so few people tolerant of such words? Sure, I would be annoyed hearing strings of these words used for the majority of one's speech, but if he used synonyms like screwed, damaged, broken, stupid, garbage, and god, I wouldn't understand how upset the speaker was. Would I be offended? How does that song go again? . . .
Sticks and stones
Can break my bones,
But NAMES will never hurt me.
A single word of around four letters can attract attention that few other words seem to be capable of finding. Perhaps this is why they are used. Perhaps it is rebellion. Oh, wait; I don't care. This page ponders why they are so intolerable, not why they are used.
So why are they so "bad?" Please help me understand this! Email your ideas to me at this address. Educators and religious leaders are most especially welcome!