Social Question

prolificus's avatar

Does it bother you when certain people swear or use curse words? Either way, why?

Asked by prolificus (6525 points ) May 7th, 2010

It could be any type of person: a religious person, someone in the position of authority, a store clerk, your teacher, mom or dad, any older relative, your baby sister, etc.

Do you expect certain people not to swear? Do you get bent out of shape when they do? If so, what are your beliefs about using curse words?

If you don’t care who swears, do you have any boundaries as far as “this is not the time or place” to swear? Please elaborate.

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51 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Yes, it bothers me if they use profanity in general conversation, though not as an exclamation – as when someone has just stubbed their toe. It indicates a coarser type of intellect, one that lacks erudition. Cursing is sign of limited imagination – there are many better ways to express yourself.

marinelife's avatar

I have gotten out of the habit of swearing so that hearing curse words actually startles me. From anyone.

DominicX's avatar

Well, I don’t like to hear young children use it. I can’t say I have much experience with that, but I wouldn’t like it if I heard it.

Other than that, no, I don’t care at all. I swear in casual conversation, all my friends do, I’m used to it and for the most part, desensitized to it. Obviously, offensive terms like the C-word, N-word, and other slurs I don’t like to hear, but “shit”, “ass”, “damn”, and “fuck”, I just don’t give a shit. Most people I know don’t use them so much that’s it’s ridiculous, but I hear them quite often and it’s become such a normal part of conversation that I don’t even really notice it anymore.

I don’t think swearing is necessarily related to “stupid” and I don’t think not swearing is commendable. But that’s just me. I’m a very different person from most people here.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I am particularly put off by individuals whose only usage of emphatic adjectives or adverbs are one of a small number of words related to bodily functions or sexual behaviour.

What makes this worse is that those with so little to say do it the most and the loudest.

@DarkScribe‘s inferences about those who use profanity in general conversation coincide with my own and for the same reasons.

For those who seem to have so little of value to say, the least they could do is have little to say.

poofandmook's avatar

I am trying very hard to break the habit. So not yet, but here’s to hoping.

bongo's avatar

i swear all the time infront of my mates in conversation, one of my peers swore in the middle of her dissertation presentation (and got a higher mark than me – not that i did badly) and there is loads of swearing on the tv. i am not offended by swearing in the slightest until people start swearing openly infront of children. I find it very odd to see children swear. i think once a child reaches early teens its a it different especially around their mates but i have worked in shops before where children come in with their parents and the children swear as much as the adults. i think thats just a bit poor. watch your tounge infront of kids, otherwise im happy to hear you swear.
obviously i wouldnt swear say at a job interview/to someone i didnt know/infront of my bf parents etc. there is still a time and a place but if someone would be to swear in conversation to me i would have no problems with it

ubersiren's avatar

I love people who curse. Not at someone, but in sort of a jolly sailor kind of way. I don’t feel like I have to be careful not to offend those people. I’m not good at filtering myself, so it relaxes me when other people don’t hold back either.

I don’t believe that cursing has anything to do with intelligence/intellect. That’s just self-righteous hog wash.

DominicX's avatar

@ubersiren

I don’t believe that cursing has anything to do with intelligence/intellect. That’s just self-righteous hog wash.

Honestly.

Much of the time, the swearing doesn’t replace any other word, it’s added on. How is saying “what are you doing?” any more “intelligent” than saying “what the hell are you doing?”. Sure, you might not like the way it sounds, but it has nothing to do with intelligence.

Symbeline's avatar

No. First of all, I’d be a hypocrite if I said otherwise, as I cuss like a pirate, everywhere and all the time. (In two languages, at that.)

I’ll admit that I probably go overboard with it more than is necessary, but not by much, because I really get annoyed by those anti cussing people who act like swearing is the worse thing next to being a Nazi. People need to lighten up. Swearing can be a damn good way to emphasize emotion in a healthy manner, and for those who think I have nothing worthwhile to say because of a swearing habit, you’re free to come and challenge me any time.
It’s not because people don’t swear or have eloquent vocabularies that they’re any more wise or intelligent than anyone else. I don’t even understand where that idea comes from. It’s a vast and varied world out there, with all sorts of colourful swears. XD
I myself am quite a fan of ’‘tarnations’’, ’‘Zounds!’’, ’‘what in the Seven Hells’’ and so forth, not just fuck shit and bitch.

But that’s not really the real beef…I don’t quite get how swearing is so frowned upon when it’s such a prominent thing in our society. All those parents who instill rebellious traits in their children by forbidding them everything are probably the first to fire employers by telling them to gtfo. Behaviour and intent is also much described by tone of voice and body language while the words are messengers.
It just annoys me because by bashing swearing and defining it as worse than Hitler, it appears people attempt to mask their own inadequacies and shames.
Being a rude asshole isn’t merely done with swearing at people; and I think people know that. I see people who never swear that are much more vile towards others than little ol me who goes and curses some guy in Mortal Kombat with all the names under the Sun because I can’t beat him in 15 seconds.

DarkScribe's avatar

@ubersiren I don’t believe that cursing has anything to do with intelligence/intellect. That’s just self-righteous hog wash.

Hmmm. No one has suggested that it has to do with intellect, the suggestion – from me – was to do with erudition. A coarser intellect means a rougher one, not a ‘dumber” one. As in “roughly” spoken.

Maybe a little erudition is needed here.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I’m a goddamn sailor and I come from a family of goddamn sailors so we swear a bunch. :)

I’d have to say the only time it does bother me is the same as @DominicX. I don’t like hearing small children swear. I don’t know why other than social niceties dictate children shouldn’t swear. It still bothers me though.

I agree that swearing is not an indication of stupidity or lack of education. I spend a lot of time with Mensans and many of them swear like sailors. Personally, I think someone sounds wishy-washy when they say “What the heck?” instead of “What the hell?”

Draconess25's avatar

@DominicX Exactly. And the latter sounds more….forceful.

I’ll avoid cussing if it’s around someone I care about that minds, but otherwise I don’t give a damn.

ubersiren's avatar

@DarkScribe Lack of knowledge, and limited imagination… that sounds to me like you think people who swear are, well, kind of dumb. That’s in addition to how you described the intellect as coarse.

DarkScribe's avatar

@ubersiren that sounds to me like you think people who swear are, well, kind of dumb.

It should sound to you exactly the way it was written. Why doesn’t it?

A person who regularly uses profanity in general speech – as against an occasional swear word for emphasis – lacks imagination. They don’t seem to be able to imagine a better and more precise way of expressing their feelings.

I have not said or implied that it also indicates a lower IQ, yet many seem to have taken it that way. That is where erudition comes in, knowing exactly what is meant and not responding to “guesses”. Neither “a coarser type of intellect” nor “a lack of erudition” indicate dumbness. Why do you assume that they do?

I am ex Navy and very used to profanity and very aware that all of those who use it are not dumb, they are just not erudite and are coarse in speech.

DominicX's avatar

@DarkScribe

One common definition of “dumb” is “lacking knowledge” or “uneducated” and here you are calling people who swear casually just that. Or do you not know what “erudite” means?

DarkScribe's avatar

@DominicX One common definition of “dumb” is “lacking knowledge” or “uneducated” and here you are calling people who swear casually just that. Or do you not know what “erudite” means?

Would you like to edit that? It makes no sense. How do you get “dumb” from anything that I have said?

DominicX's avatar

@DarkScribe

Okay, let me be as clear as possible here:

Erudite: “characterized by great knowledge; learned or scholarly”: an erudite professor; an erudite commentary.

You are saying that people who swear frequently/casually are lacking erudition, therefore they are not that learned and are lacking “great knowledge”. One common way of describing someone who is “dumb” is that they lack knowledge and are not learned. Ergo, you are linking swearing with not possessing knowledge and ergo, with “dumbness”, or at least one common understanding of “dumbness”.

the100thmonkey's avatar

It doesn’t bother me generally; as long as it’s appropriate for the situation, I’m easy.

I’m an English language teacher, so unless it fits the context of the class and the learners, I would generally expect my students to not swear in class – it often upsets others much more than it does me.

ubersiren's avatar

This is hilarious, and ironic.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@DarkScribe: I will respectfully disagree with you. Swearing in casual conversation does not denote a lack of imagination. As @DominicX said above, “what are you doing?” and “what the hell are you doing?” are not necessarily different but a person who “lacks imagination” would not throw the swear in there and a person who has imagination in spades would not eschew the swear. I am a writer and a film student. I have to have imagination in order to be both of those things. Because I swear does not mean that I lack imagination. In fact, it doesn’t mean anything at all except that I swear sometimes.

DarkScribe's avatar

@DominicX
You are saying that people who swear frequently/casually are lacking erudition, therefore they are not learned and do not have “great knowledge”. One common way of describing someone who is “dumb” is that they lack knowledge and are not learned. Ergo, you are linking swearing with not possessing knowledge and ergo, with “dumbness”, or at least one common understanding of “dumbness”.

Unbelievable!

Yes, and another definition for dumb is unable to speak. Why don’t you imply that I have accused people who swear as being unable to speak. That little conundrum should keep you busy for a while.

(Perhaps you might consider losing the word “ergo” you don’t seem to grasp its application.)

MissA's avatar

When you cuss profusely, using expletives loses its punch. I prefer to use profanity if I’m truly wanting to make a point.

GENERALLY, I think cursing shows a lack of communicative skills or vocabulary. I’m not a prude…but, I personally don’t like the words: pussy, cun_, _ocksucker and other words that make the act of lovemaking sound ugly.

For instance, how can a man call someone a _ocksucker in madness…only to enjoy such an act in reality. Makes no sense to me.

On the other hand, there are those I care deeply about…who are extremely intelligent…who curse every other word (exaggeration)...it’s their character and I accept that. But, it wouldn’t be mine. In general, I’m not offended by the way others express themselves.

Symbeline's avatar

@DarkScribe A person who regularly uses profanity in general speech – as against an occasional swear word for emphasis – lacks imagination. They don’t seem to be able to imagine a better and more precise way of expressing their feelings.

Swearing really isn’t that much the big deal that people make of it. Who are you to say that people have no imagination just cuz they swear? Who says that expressing oneself needs be done merely through wording? Who made you the authority on all that?
People can do so through music, drawing, martial arts, writing too…everyone’s got their niche, and maybe someone who swears has a different one than you. Reminds me of that Simpsons episode where that guy drew that wicked puma pride painting. Minus actually being psychotic, but yeah.
And even if it wasn’t for all that, a lot of things are hard to express. Sorry we can’t all be experts like you.

DominicX's avatar

@DarkScribe

Please illustrate how I used the word incorrectly.

My dick is also bigger than yours.

prolificus's avatar

Eh hm… gentlemen, there’s a lady present in the house. Please mind your manners.

DarkScribe's avatar

@DominicX My dick is bigger than yours.

You have been peaking through my bathroom window again?

(Some things increase in size with constant manipulation – or so I have heard.)

DarkScribe's avatar

@DominicX Please illustrate how I used the word incorrectly.

You have made a leap from one context to another, one defined and decided by you. There is no “ergo” in that sense. I use erudite as it is meant – to indicate learning. Lacking knowledge or learning has nothing to do with lacking intelligence. I do not believe that, nor have I implied it, yet you convoluted “ergo” reasoning has decided that I have.

I regard those who use constant profanity as coarse, lacking in social skill, unimaginative in that they don’t try to use a more appropriate word. I regard them as self defeating in that that type of language is likely to limit their career and social choices. I prefer to avoid their company in social situations – though I do quite happily work with them.

But, I do not regard them as lacking in intelligence, just in application of what intelligence that they possess.

Clear enough for you?

prolificus's avatar

Do I hear a cock fight?

DominicX's avatar

@DarkScribe

Whether or not you think of “dumbness” that way, what’s more important is that you are saying that people who swear frequently/casually are showing a lack of knowledge and education. That is where I disagree, especially when swearing does not replace a word, but simply adds on to a phrase, as in “what’s going on?” versus “what the hell/fuck is going on?”. An even better example is something I hear frequently: “that shit was hard” versus “that was hard”. Nothing is being replaced. A “smarter” word isn’t being replaced for a “dumber” word. A supplemental swear word is being added on.

DarkScribe's avatar

@DominicX you are saying that people who swear frequently/casually are showing a lack of knowledge and education.

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. Look at any blue collar worker demographic and compare it to a demographic consisting of academic or professional people and see where the use of coarse language is more prevalent.

MissA's avatar

Wow. you two agree on something!

ucme's avatar

I swear I see nothing wrong with it. I never swear in front of the kids, although i’m tempted sometimes, gritted teeth, the little darlings.I think a wholly inappropriate ocassion to swear would be during one’s wedding vows, hilarious though.No i’d save that for the divorce courts much more telling.

ubersiren's avatar

@KatawaGrey Me too! My daddy and granddaddy were sailors, and my momma just doesn’t give two shits. I was doomed from the start…lol.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

I don’t mind it, unless it’s a person who’s trying to impress people by swearing.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I don’t mind. Most of the time I don’t even notice it. Twenty-nine years in the Army, where about every third word spoken is foul, has made me immune to such language.

janbb's avatar

Ah – reports of the old Fluther’s demise were premature and unfounded! I only regret that that fucker @dpworkin is not here to lend his two cents.

Draconess25's avatar

@toomuchcoffee911 Now that can get annoying!

ubersiren's avatar

This reminds me of Kathy Griffin’s impression of her mother. Anyone know what I’m talking about? 3:10 NSFW and prudes. :)

SeventhSense's avatar

It’s all good. Now if my Mom said I’ll be around at 8 bitches and don’t fuck with my casserole I’d be a little shocked.

Draconess25's avatar

@SeventhSense Sounds like my mom!

asmonet's avatar

I disagree with @DarkScribe and fully agree with @KatawaGrey and @DominicX‘s points.

I curse, frequently. I see no problem with it, the power of those words is defined by those hearing them. I think it’s ridiculous to give that kind of power to a four letter word. However, as I work in an office, albeit a relaxed one, I do tend to censor myself as much as possible. Instead of fuck and shit I’ve managed to replace them with frick and nerds. I’m not always successful, I have a well known problem avoiding really offensive phrases around members of the clergy.

Seriously, if a priest walks by I’m usually telling someone to get skull-fucked or something else that’s “horrible”.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

My father could swear like a sailor when he had to; but if he did, you knew that you were in big trouble.

asmonet's avatar

Oh, and I think curse words and phrases can be fabulously creative – just sayin’.

You know the insults and outbursts I’m talkin’ about.

Draconess25's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Sounds like my dad!
@asmonet Such as….a bat-drunken octopus-face in a power grid?

faye's avatar

I kind of like a little cursing- bit of a potty mouth meself.

YARNLADY's avatar

I was brought up to believe certain words are rude, crude, vulgar, and no to be used in polite company. To those who say that words are just sounds your voice makes, and it means nothing – I challenge you to stop using the ones that are labeled vulgar and switch to some other sound, after all, if it’s only a sound, ewwww would do just as well as uckkkkk, wouldn’t it?

Seaofclouds's avatar

It doesn’t bother me when people curse. I try not to curse, but it happens. My son knows a lot of the “curse words”, but he also knows it’s not appropriate for him to say them at this point in time and that there are other words he can say instead.

OpryLeigh's avatar

The only time swearing irritates me is when I hear younger people doing it every other word. It irritates me because they are only doing it to be “cool” in front of their mates or because they think it makes them look hardcore. I swear like a trooper but I, at least, make sure it is relevant to the conversation so that it has the best effect!

SeventhSense's avatar

It is kind of funny when an elderly person uses profanity though. How about Betty White at 90 on SNL sounding as funny and edgy as any 20 year old. How about her Tasty Muffin
Good times…good times

Silhouette's avatar

I swear like a sailor but I’m fully aware there is a wrong time and wrong place for the f bomb. I didn’t get all bent out of shape when my children swore, I just gave them the time and place speech and it worked. My kids were never taken to the principal’s office for swearing, in fact they lost interest in it pretty early on. The kids I knew that were forbidden to swear, were constantly in the shit for potty language.

tianalovesyou's avatar

hmmm it really depends on whose there.
usually though I never curse (:

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