I’ve been involved in a rather silly Facebook “debate” this evening. I enjoy a good battle of words and since this woman didn’t have enough since to keep her misguided opinion to herself rather than try to defame a perfect stranger, I went to bat. The guy was a total stranger to me too, and the debate about how his dogs were kept really has no bearing whatsoever on this blog.
No. Actually, she had really weak arguments to begin with, and I, along with many others, had many strong arguments for the way the original poster was keeping his dogs. But none of the debate is at all relevant here. The only reason the debate brings me to the computer to type this is her language.
According to Oxforddictionaries.com there are 171,476 words in the English language.* And yet, with all those words to choose from to make a point stronger, this lady (I use the term loosely) continued to express herself with curse words. Now, don’t take me wrong. My language is not perfect. I do not make a habit of swearing, but, sadly, the tongue is a beast that is difficult to tame and I have been known to let a swear word slip. I do, however, try to be very careful not to do this. And I most certainly do not use vulgarity as a way to strengthen my arguments — especially in a written debate, where time can be taken to think of more appropriate words.
Unfortunately, this use of four letter words has become the norm in American language, both written and verbal. I see it all the time. People can be carrying on a perfectly calm, otherwise normal conversation, and yet they pepper in these words, seemingly in place of punctuation. In written form, particularly blogs, swear words seems to be the accepted method of making a point more valid. I have heard, and read, some people’s language and wondered if they would have 5 words to say in a row if they didn’t swear.
But the truth is, this method is so very flawed. In reality, if you have to swear to “make a point” then you don’t have a point to begin with. If you have to use curse words, and go on loud tirades, then all you are proving is that your grasp for the English language is, in fact, very limited. You may have wonderful, fact based points, aside from your language, but to use these words only detracts from your credibility. It doesn’t make your voice stronger. It makes it more immature and annoying. And while this is very true in spoken communication, it is even more true in written form. If you have 171,476 words to choose from, and time to pause and think, why would you opt to use the language of a 8th grade boy who thinks he is tough because he talks bad? This makes no sense. It’s a sad reflection of a culture that does not value education, or even the appearance of being educated. And it shows a great lack of self respect.
I realize we all slip on occasion and let a “dirty word” out; even if a dirty word for you is “drat.” We all do it. And we all seem to have more or less words that fall into the swear word category. Growing up gosh, crap, and butt were off limits in our house. As an adult, I use the word crap on occasion. This is just a tiny example of how “swearing” differs for people. But it is also common knowledge that some words are Swear words, and have no other place. To use f*** or f***ing as a type of bold print, if you will, in written, or verbal form, is unnecessary. There are so many other words to choose from — 171,475, to be exact. To use s*** or b**** as off hand comments is ridiculous. All this shows is that you do not have the capacity to come up with more appropriate wording.
So, while the lady I debated with tonight, had no leg to stand on in the first place, this entire blog was simply my attempt to bring a little civility back into day to day conversation. This woman would not have won me over with her points anyway, but she did herself no favors by cluttering the debate with cursing. Like I said before, if you have to cuss to prove your point, you don’t have a point to begin with.
*The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries.