LINGUIST

The old-timey method of looking up the meaning of a word

Vulgarity in Society

In the past, vulgarity was referred to as using colorful language or swearing like a sailor. It was out of place during High Tea or while attending church. But amongst the first words  most young people want to learn in a new language are the ‘bad’ ones so you can sneak a few past your parents at the dinner table. Back in the day, the consequences were no worse than the threatened washing your mouth out with soap.

Fast forward to our Politically Correct climate where certain ‘trigger’ words seem to leave people ‘utterly devastated’. Blue Jay’s fielder, Kevin Pillar, yells the old term for a British smoke (fag) during the heat of the moment and he’s almost in tears afterwards in the press scrum talking about his 2 game suspension. Anaheim Ducks Captain, Ryan Getzlaf, shouted ‘Fucking Cocksucker’ at a referee during a game and received the highest fine the NHL is allowed to levy. The media immediately trotted out offended and disappointed homosexuals for their reactions and the last bastion of male dominance has been brought to their knees. Hockey players are literally beating each other black and blue with barely controlled violence but a tasteless insult offends and shocks the sensibilities to the point where it must be smote from on high?

Trigger words come and go as time changes what is culturally acceptable. Some heinous words are forbidden to utter under any circumstances. The ‘N’ word is so verboten, it caused a minor uproar during a recent Canadian Senate committee meeting that was debating the deletion of gender pronouns. The ‘C’ word that describes a nasty woman is an example of a particularly unpleasant retort that offends women of an older generation. Homophobic slurs that were very common to my generation have now been elevated to the infamous status of displaying a swastika or shouting ‘Sieg Heil’.

Offensive language is language and has been used throughout history. If you can get past the hurt feelings and censoring, it is interesting to learn where certain terms come from. ‘Cracker’ seems to have a long, rich history and was used to describe ‘white trailer trash’ as far back as the 1590’s. Quebecers were called ‘Pepsi’s‘ because they couldn’t afford the more expensive Coca Cola. Acadian swear words do not follow typical anatomical or sexual idioms and make little sense outside of the Roman Catholic context. Cup, tent or The Host (en francais, câlisse, tabarnak, osti) when used as vulgarity make people in Paris laugh because they sound like nonsense words. Chilean curses are a bit confusing depending on context. For example, ‘Weon‘ depending on who says it and the inflection can mean an endearing term for a buddy or a crude way of calling you a fucker. As for the Newfies, a faggot to them is a pile of half fried codfish, so heaven knows what they’re saying.

Coming back to the Senate meetings, it may seem silly that the larger populace may someday be criminally restrained from using gender pronouns because it offends the transgender and gay communities. But the fluffy, homogeneous, marshmallow PC censor’s goal is to make society as bland as tapioca pudding.  Label everything that could be possibly offensive to any minority group as hate speech (eg. Bill M-103) and you will be able to curb free speech and to guide us into their Orwellian future.

After a quick perusal of the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, I easily found each naughty word used in this essay and its meaning. Should we adopt Orwellian theory and have a good old fashioned electronic book burning erasing all traces of ‘offensive’ literature? Maybe instead of pulling our hair out over a few obnoxious insults, we should take a step back and put vulgar language into perspective. I don’t think a hurled word here and there needs the wrath of social justice raining down on the offender. Save that righteous indignation for those who preach and practise intolerance.

But instead, I fear the PC crowd will not be happy until Ministry of Truth Thought Police reprogram us all at the Ministry of Love.

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Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.