OZIDEAS Communication Alternativs

Better Swearing

More freedom of language

In the Pssst column of the Melbourne Sunday Age, 29.6.2003, there was a neat example of Better Swearing (quoted with permission):
'For those who missed Greg Rusedski's magnificent soliloquy of frustration during his straight-sets loss to Andy Roddick at Wimbledon, inspired by a line-call that was changed to his disadvantage, here it is.

As this is a family paper, both major and minor obscenities have been replaced by the names of birds. The result should be informative and educational.

'I can't do anything if the crowd albatross calls it. Absolutely vulture ridiculous. At least replay the point.' Rusedski continued: 'Robin ridiculous, falcon ridiculous, budgie ridiculous. Some lesser-crested grebe in the crowd changes the whole match and you allow it to happen. Well done, well done, well done. Absolutely muttonbird...' '

Well done, sports writer.

What I think about swearing is unpublishable. It would have been censored until recently.

Briefly, however, swearing should be colorful- not as drab and boring as it has become. The best bullockies didn't repeat themselves. Swearing should be a thinking activity, not a substitute for it. And instead of just sex and excretion and religion, you could go for - say economics or astrophysics or invent your own words,
"You quark, you quongo! What the GST!"

There is a challenge for all you authors out there for Better Swearing

Poor swearing is one reason why many Australians are unable to think constructively.

The reasons for swearing

  • To express feelings in words rather than actions, especially if you do not have a bigger vocabulary
  • to seem Manly
  • to shock people
  • because everyone else does.

As to the first reason, when even two-year-old children hear and use the two pelvic swear words daily, and they are de rigeur rather than shockworthy, there is nothing specially manly about limiting your vocabulary to them.

As to the second reason, consider how language and thinking are related. One theory about language is that the the thinking available to you is limited by the words available to you. This is not completely true, because most people can think of things and yet be unable to think of the words for them, but it is true that the 'shorthand' language you use can restrict how you think. Concepts, cliches and swear-words set the stage of your mind.

Thirdly,at present we have a vicious spiral with swear-words, as well as with violence and the more unkindly forms of sex.

If our entertainment has to include all these boring words on the grounds that otherwise it is dishonest and not realistic - then
not only is this a big fib because think of all the other real things that it never bothers with,
but then all the viewers whose own real lives do not contain these things have now had them entered into their consciousness.

All actions begin in the mind, and so from a core of people who commonly replaced the Great Australian Adjective with sex and excretion, and were publicised doing this for our entertainment,
the spiral kerns wider,
until a teenager will tell you that teenage fiction is 'not realistic' unless it is full of these two words because 'every teenager' talks like that.
And so other readers of teenager fiction learn to talk like that.

Teachers have argued that "school texts can be obscene because life can be obscene".

What about, "texts can be idealistic and noble because life can be idealistic and noble"? The short answer to that may be one of only two words, and that is not good enough.

Look back at original Australian swearing, and then go forward

Apart from religious oaths and expletives, which curiously are mostly used by the irreligious, the Great Australian Adjective was Bloody - possibly but not certainly derived from ByOurLady, but by its users intended to be sanguinary.

This is a good strong word - C. Dennis' Australia-aise rings well.

It's a growly get-up-and-go word and does not suffer from repetition.

On the other hand, 'fuck' used as an abusive swear word degrades the sexual act.

The use of any sexual word for swearing degrades sex and that is a pity, because over the past thirty years major public connotations of intercourse have downgraded in a series of steps from 'making love' to 'having sex' to 'bonking' to words contemptuous of the other partner.

And so there are teenagers and even older people who have no idea of the possibility of 'making love' to increase their sexual pleasure, and so try to extend their pleasure by moving into extremes of physical contact such as S&M.

'Shit' is a dirty word; like mercy, it does something to him that gives as well as to him that receives.

I was once in a minivan on a four hour trip with some decent but frustrated people. The van could have been dumped at Werribee sewage farm well before the end.

There are some very funny jokes about shit, including how the different philosophies of life deal with it.
But imagine if people used a different word each time they were facing a mess.

Australian bullockies were famous swearers, and the more extensive and imaginative their range of curses and oaths, the higher their reputation.

As with multi-lingualism, the more intelligent the person, the easier it is to think intelligently whether using many languages - or only two words.

Intellectuals whose vocabulary is indecently larded with these two words are committing a sort of social treason, because although this may not hinder their own thinking, other people who find it harder to think, are more easily stonkered when reliance on those two words cut off their reasoning and their imagination.

Swearing used to be indicated in public print by dashes or printers marks such as @#$%?&*! - possibly today such translation would have to be limited to #####****. In films there could be blips.

Teachers have argued that 'school texts can be obscene because life can be obscene.'  What about 'texts can be idealistic and noble because life can be idealistic and noble'?  The short answer to that may  be one of two words, and that is not good enough.

Today writers and producers could set models for swearing for all of us viewers, listeners and readers, from tots to totterers by translating the swear words assumed to be used by all their characters into new and more vigorous language invented for the purpose of the entertainment, or taken from our rich heritage of British and foreign dialects.

It could help to get the perambulating iambic kenspeckled Australian public off its scunny skrumpums and begin to scotter their emboggled dottles to think, in order to swear better.

And once they started thinking, by hopscotch, who knows what
amfermunkls could happen?

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