Hello friends. I've been so excited to share this with you. I won a writing contest!
There is a wonderful columnist who writes for our local newspaper, The Davis Enterprise. His name is Bob Dunning. He's lived here practically his whole life. He shares stories of Davis past and present, and provides commentary on everything from sports to local politics.
Every year Bob runs a contest to "replace the columnist." He invites anyone who is so inclined, to submit an article on any topic they like. His "large judging body" ahem...then chooses the winners. Each winner gets their day in the spotlight as Bob's replacement in the column space.
I look forward to reading these columns every year. This year, I decided to submit my own essay, and much to my delight, I am a winner!
So my column is in the paper today!! You can click HERE to see it. You can also check out the other winning essays. Or you can read my essay below. My blog here includes the usual music video (and it's a doozy)!
Watch your language!
Ok, big confession. I have a potty mouth. I do. I enjoy inserting a four-letter word here and there. It feels GOOD. It adds emphasis to the emotions. It puts the exclamation point on the exclamation! I know...it's not very lady-like. I've been told this. But I just can't help myself. Besides, I never claimed to be a lady. I'm a woman -- with strong emotions.
This penchant for cursing goes back to my youth. Like most kids, I began to experiment and test the boundaries, and using foul language was part of that. I remember a time when I was playing outside with my friend Pam, who lived next door. I was only 9 years old. I don't remember why, but I started swearing, probably just to sound cool. Well, Pammy's mom heard my lovely little diatribe. The next day, when I called Pam to see if she could play, she said, "No, my mom doesn't want me to play with you anymore.” What? Why? A bad influence? Me? But I'm so sweet and nice! What mom wouldn't want her daughter to have a friend like me? Her mom had it all wrong.
I had a lot to learn. Language is one of the ways, perhaps the strongest, that we present ourselves to the world. Everything we say leaves an impression. This has always been true and will always be true.
So why have the rules of language become so lax over the years? Don't people care about making a good impression anymore? To hear the young people talk, you would think not, but it’s not just youngsters. I hear more four letter words coming from adult mouths than ever before. Our societal "no-no" on cursing seems to have been lifted. Did we just give up on the rules? It seems we have agreed this battle is just not worth fighting.
Is it a matter of rebellion? It's hard to live by the rules all the time! Maybe our society is going through a collective letting down of the hair. We have done this throughout history. We've gone through periods of conservatism that led to periods of wild abandon. Victorian prudishness to flappers and speakeasies. 1950s "Leave it to Beaver,” to 1960s sex, drugs and rock n' roll.
Television must certainly play a role. If you watch one episode of “Family Guy” you’ll see what I mean. What about the Internet? With email and Face Book and Twitter, the goal is to be pithy and clever, and swear words are a quick way to make a point. Sarcasm is too. Politeness flies out the window. We get into bad habits and they translate into real life.
Well, I am happy to speculate on the subject, but we could take a more scientific approach. Did you know there is an academic discipline that studies such things? It's called Linguistic Anthropology. I Googled "curse words and society" and found it on Wikipedia, so it must be true. Wikipedia defines it as such: "Linguistic anthropology explores how language shapes communication, forms social identity and group membership, organizes large-scale cultural beliefs and ideologies, and develops a common cultural representation of natural and social worlds." If you prefer a more credible source, I found another definition on Oregon State University's website that says this:
"linguistic anthropology - study of how language is used in various social contexts. Anthropological linguistics focuses more on the interplay of language and culture."
There is even a Society for Linguistic Anthropology (SLA). So if you want to delve into this fascinating subject further, you know who to turn to.
Language, and what is acceptable, is changing in so many ways. Including curse words in everyday conversation is just part of it. It will be interesting to see how that boundary either stretches or bounces back.
Oh, and in case you were wondering.... there is a happy ending to my earlier story. I apologized to Pam’s mother for my behavior. I told her that the girl hurling swear words in the backyard wasn't the real me. I'm really a very nice girl, honest. I would make an effort to watch my mouth. Like any mom would do, she took the opportunity to lecture me, and I actually listened. For years I did not use foul language, even though it went against my natural emotive tendencies. Then, slowly but surely, the curse words crept back into my vocabulary. However...I try not to use them around my kids (does "crap" count?) or in public. I save them for special occasions and for the privileged few in my inner circle. Lucky them!