Are substitute curse words just as bad as real ones?

Sean says they are because it’s not like people don’t know what you mean when you say, “frickin’ fake curse words are so frackin’ stupid and you may as well just say the freakin’ real word.”

I disagree.  I figure that when you chose to use the substitute word you’re making a choice not to use the stronger word even though the stronger word is available to you.  So you’re choosing not to offend.  Or you’re choosing to tame it down some because you’re not that mad.  Or you’re choosing to use the substitute for some other reason.  But the fact remains that you’re choosing to use a word that is generally considered to be, at the least, less offensive than the alternatives.

Case in point:  I’ve never had much of a foul mouth.  I have plenty of other failings that’s just never really been one of mine.  Even in high school when most of my friends were dropping f-bombs right and left I just didn’t.  And then one day something happened (I have no memory of what) and I got mad.  Really really mad.  And I exploded and I dropped an f-bomb of my own.  And the whole room froze.  None of them had ever heard that kind of language from me, so when they did it actually meant something.  And I realized that when you use “angry language” all the time, it gets a lot harder to get your point across when you really are angry.  Gals like me can do it with a word.


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bythelbs
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 12:52:29

    I’m with you on the choosing thing. If I meant s#!*, I would have said s#!*, but I didn’t. I said crap. Totally different. And when I hear someone say frackin’, I hear frackin’. I don’t substitute any other word in its place in my mind. Frack is frack. Darn is darn. Crap is crap.

    But then, I’m the Queen of Rationalization, so I’m probably not the most credible source.

  2. Chris Jones
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 13:35:29

    Choose the euph, ESPECIALLY because the 5-year-old next to you doesn’t KNOW the other word. In our house the s-word is “stupid”. I like it that way.

  3. julie
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 14:07:20

    I say frack and crap and mean it when I say those words..I try not to bad words either.

  4. Melanie J
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 14:40:24

    I think you make a great point, dang it!

  5. JIllybean
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 15:45:14

    I agree, it’s a choice. I use the milder words, and sometimes make up strange ones of my own.

  6. Annette
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 16:20:24

    I agree with you. Not only for the reasons you listed, but also because language evolves. “Gay” meant something totally different to my dad’s generation. The “real” (original) meaning of “suck” and “mother of” are extremely crude, but their meaning has changed, and they no longer mean those things.

    Same thing goes with the softer “curse” words. I think it shows respect for NOT swearing with abandon.

  7. LisAway
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 00:15:57

    I agree. When someone says that actual word it sort of hurts your ears.

    I had a friend in jr. high/ high school whose parents taught them that euphemisms were evil. I remember at her birthday party (probably 14th or 15th) they had a big bowl of jelly beans and any time anyone used a euphemism everyone else got to eat a jelly bean. I don’t think I ate a single jelly bean the whole time but I made sure (not on purpose) that everyone else at the party was eating them non-stop. Whatever. I’m evil.

  8. Brillig
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 00:52:52

    Oh, I totally agree with you! I’ve had lots of people call me out on my blog for my frequent use of “frickin’ brackin'” as my substitute swear word. They say that I should just go ahead and swear. A curse is a curse. But I totally disagree. On my mission the children used to shout at us in English. Of course, the only English words they knew were really, really filthy. The words meant nothing to them, but for us it was shocking. There’s just something about that f-bomb that carries a shock to it that the substitute words don’t carry. Let’s face it– Frickin’ brackin’ just isn’t going to offend anyone! That f-bomb invariably does.

  9. madhousewife
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 08:57:38

    I think the fake curse words are funnier than the real curse words. Except when the real curse words are funnier.

    My children are disturbed by my increased usage of “frack,” so I’m trying to cut down. Or go back to “freak”–but “frack” is so much more satisfying. Probably because it sounds filthier.

    Reminds me, though–I was quite disturbed when five-year-old PZ came up to me (or her dad) while the missionaries were over and said, “Will you help me with this freaking zipper?”

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