I don't have the literary skills that most others on this site have, nor the time to do research.

But I only wanted to write a blurb tonight on the small bits of text we/I speak on occasion without really thinking about them. Even in my Godlessness, I find myself still saying "Oh my god" and "bless you" (when people sneeze) at times.

"How on God's green earth" do I stop myself from doing this?

Should I?

"God damn't!" There I go again, references to religion in everyday speak.

Not like censoring myself would help, but maybe shedding light on "our" clean words (compared to curse words) can be helpful to our culture. Take for instance an episode of "Bullshit" from Penn & Teller. They confronted curse words and how it's all bullshit!

A woman crusading to clean up our language decided to make "Santa Vaca" her alternative to "holy shit" or "god damn't." Yet Penn politely (heh) pointed out that Santa Vaca refers to "Holy Cow" which could be taken as offensive to Hindus. Turns out this woman, even in her attempt to make the world a better place, is just ignorantly switching which culture she's offending.

Yes I understand curse words have their place. I don't go around just shouting them for the fun of it! I just make sure that I understand the true meaning of these before I go using them. Which is good advice no matter what words you use.

So with that, I say "good night"


"In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer." ~Mark Twain

http://www.quotegarden.com/language.html

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Tags: language

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Comment by Ian Mason on January 1, 2009 at 11:44pm
Just stumbled over one:
" O my shining stars and body ". James Joyce, "Finnegans Wake". It'll also boost your literary credentials. It's the book the name "Quark" for a type of subatomic particle comes from; "Three quarks for Muster Mark!" and as a whole is so unreadable that you can say anything you like about it. "Is it composed from 65 separate lanquages if it only speaks in one?" is a favourite. In fact, you could say something that isn't even proper English and claim it as a quote from that book, and no-one would be any the wiser.
Happy New Year
Comment by Ian Mason on January 1, 2009 at 4:09pm
I have the same habit (as does Richard Dawkins, if memory serves) and now I live in Denmark, well, there is almost no exclamation/swearword in Danish that doesn't have a root in God or Devil. "Åh, for satan!" is an example. I use these too, because the culture around me has taught me to and not because I look in a mental dictionary. The only other option is two or three words that refer to toilet functions, which is limiting. Swear words have to have an emotional resonance to be effective, so we repeat what we learn at an early age, behind the bike-shed or in the toilet at school, the same place we pick up the absurd sexual mythology that passes for sex education in the so-called Anglo-Saxon world.
So fuck 'em all! Say what you bloody well like!
Comment by Lori Stephens on November 16, 2008 at 12:01pm
Hi Roxanne,

I just wrote an essay on religious terms and phrases and how the act of using them is effectively "feeding the meme". The words are the symbols for (IMHO) imaginary entities, and each time I use a word like "god" or "heaven", I perpetuate the concept. I feed the meme. So my radical suggestion is to challenge these terms. Force (in a civil way) the speaker to explain what s/he means by "god" rather than acknowledging, as we generally do, that we have any idea what the person is talking about. It's a weird concept, but it helps to "starve" the meme.

I've posted the full essay on my blog.
Comment by o on November 16, 2008 at 9:01am
Many of the phrases that you mentioned are considered to be "taking the lord's name in vain" by most xtians, which is why they are so popular (forbidden fruit and all). In my house, we go straight for the extreme profanity..."fuck" being our favorite as it can be applied to so many different scenarios...followed closely by "shit". When I am inclined to say "jesus christ" I usually add "on a popsicle stick". The only word my eldest son and I censor ourselves around my younger two is "fuck". We usually say "foo" instead. Otherwise, my kids understand that profanity is something that is okay to use around me but they must be very careful to use it around others, which they've learned when an OMG has slipped and their grandma chews them out. We use "gesundheit" when someone sneezes or nothing at all with each other. I am rather inclined to use lots of offensive godspeak around people I know it bothers that I don't like. That's why profanity is what it is: it makes your point more strongly, it's easy to say and it shocks more sensitive sensibilities.
Comment by Father Nature on November 16, 2008 at 8:15am
This is a subject I've thought about lately too. The day after the election, I was talking to a neighbor and without thinking I said "Thank God the political ads have ended." When I injure myself, I'm likely to erupt with a "Jesus Christ!" or "Goddammit!" It only happens in situations when the brain is disengaged from the mouth. If I have time to consider my words first, I never use those expressions but rather prefer to take the name of Tarvu in vain.

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