Zack, I really enjoyed your post and here's why:
Zach Sears wrote:We assign words meaning, which means we take some arbitrary sound and seed it with a definitive purpose so the word in and of itself isn't in any way bad. We decided to make some words bad or off limits which is a little irrational.
When I read this, it had me thinking of my childhood and a specific word that was 'bad' if used in my household. Ironically, it was not any of the common 4 letter words thought of as 'bad' today. It was 'Lesbian'. Yes, lesbian
. I was raised by 2 mothers and that word was absolutely NOT allowed to be used in our house at all. Not, because my mothers weren't Gay, but because when they were growing up in the 40's & 50's, lesbian was a horrible word - akin to being of/from Satan. That it was actually worse to be a lesbian than a prostitute. So, my brother and I grew up in the Castro community of San Francisco with 2 Dykes
as our mothers...and woe be it to the foolish man (straight, or otherwise) who asked if they were Lez's.
What's funny (to me, anyway) is that I still, to this day, have a really hard time using the word lesbian - but can drop an f-bomb with hardly any thought what-so-ever in the proper setting. Go figure, right? Now, fast forward to last summer when my daughters and I went to visit their grandmas. Did I not just hear the word 'lesbian' being used in conjunction with my moms, by one of my moms...and not one person died from an immediate and horrible death? Will wonders never cease.
Zach Sears wrote:However, with kids using swear words it's the same as with a power tool, I don't let them use it because they're not yet capable of understanding the full repercussions of the use of such things.
My oldest daughter was enrolled in a private 'Free School" (or Unschool, as some people call them) that allowed swearing - but you had to be certified for it. Now, when I say, "allowed", I mean ALL the kids, K-12, had the opportunity to be certified to swear at school (not allowed off school grounds or at home - that was a different venue with different rules and kids had to figure that one out with their parents). Since I was raised in a household that apparently would have fit right in with Western Scotland's choice of vocabulary (per someone else's post in this F-Word thread), I didn't really have an issue with swearing to begin with. However, as with anything
to do in life, we need to know that there are consequences to our choices
. So, even before she went to this school, I was instructing her on the finer points of not imitating mommy's (at home) words, without forethought, in public. The irony of all of this is that it hasn't been until recently (since she went into High School) that her vocabulary has taken a dive in public places. Prior to this, she didn't care to swear other than in the first week that she was 'certified' at the private school (and hardly ever at home even though it wasn't disallowed). Which, if I recall correctly, pretty much happened with each kid - once they realized that swearing wasn't going to get them any 'attention', most of the kids hardly swore at all. Now though, I get the feeling that swearing is getting her positive 'attention' from fellow students/friends and that's why it's the 'new' thing to do.
Zach Sears wrote:The words we choose to use should be chosen with care and thought, with audience and the true intent of our communication in mind.
I don't recall where I read it, but someone, somewhere, said (basically) that if, "you want to really communicate with someone you need to be able to speak their
language." Now, they weren't just referring to a language in and of itself - but the words of a language that people populate their daily lives/conversations with. I found this to be especially helpful in my 10+ year public relations career. Whereas some people might think that it's never
a good idea to swear within your job with the/a client, there were times that it was actually good
. It not only created a connection, to be talking with them in their 'language', but in doing so it made the other person(s) feel more comfortable with their surroundings (and, indirectly, with me).
Zach Sears wrote:I always just tell kids that there are grown up words that should be used judicially and if they don't understand what the words mean or how to use them they should refrain from using them just like I tell kids the chainsaw is a tool that you should not us until you have the strength and have been shown how to properly use them.
This is nice, because words CAN hurt things that are unseen - and like with anything else (even a garden) a little forethought and education before sowing can greatly impact what you later reap.