Engaging with different cultures and their languages is great to reflect on one’s own. Growing up listening to Dancehall Reggae, while an adolescent in the Canadian prairies, allowed me a window into linguistics that were not common currency in my geography. What fascinated me then, was how languages/dialects which borrow from West African origins, cultures which prior to Western cultural engagement did not find sexual connotations offensive, hold body function terms as far more offensive than cultures where religious or social dogma dictated that sex was in some way shameful. Jamaican patois is an intriguing syncretization of the grammar and social norms of certain language groups of West African nations such as the language Twi (‘Chwee’) and the words of English. The strongest pejoratives involve toilet paper (or historically, cloth), cloth for menstrual purposes, and terms related to the anus and defecation. The act of sex itself is not a curse word, unlike societies that have evolved from Victorian Anglo norms, although incestuous sex is. The censorship of language is meaningless. Swear words exist to convey emotion, in ways that are not possible through idiotic euphemism.
I often ponder WHY people use certain words euphemistically or with blanks or hyphens or whatever. Words are not the problem or issue or anything, it is the IDEA, the NOTIONAL SIGNIFICANCE that perhaps may be the problem. Such as racism/sexism/homophobia and how every few years, ‘society’ seems to agree than a certain ‘term’ will now be considered a pejorative. It seems some great political step has been taken, while in reality, the actual underlying concerns most likely have not changed at all. Banning words seems pretty superficial, and irrational, when real problems are left unchanged.
The below Christian advert is currently displayed in Toronto public transit. Seems like an instruction manual on how to be a good sheep.
Language is a tool with which to express intelligence and emotion….to display it as a badge of conformance…is…uninspired, to say the least.