Re: DSM: Re: name calling and swearing (FWD)

From: John Axtell (
Date: Tue Apr 10 2001 - 13:38:10 EDT


My take on swearing is pretty darn simple. Swear words are the words of the
uneducated. An educated person, or should I say a person with a good vocabulary,
can communicate the same concept, or worse, by using very nice language, or at
least no one would call it swearing.

Words take on the meanings we give them. To me "nigger" was never a "bad" word,
it simply was a word, same thing with "red skin" and "squaw". But now, in my area
of Eastern Washington there is a big effort afoot to eliminate the word "squaw"
from all street names, names of creeks, and other geographic things. Odd but

I am unable to understand how people can be so judgemental about everything and
everybody. If I called someone a "bad name" in another language no one would say
anything but I would have known what I called that person and be none the worse
for wear. However, if I wanted to anger that person I would certainly need to use
a word that person would react to in anger.


Marko Koskinen wrote:

> This is an interesting topic, and I wanted to give it a few thoughts.
> I'm just wondering what purpose does swaring serve. I'm thinking that
> how do children express their anger before they learn to swear... they
> probably express it physically, by hitting someone or breaking something
> or just plain yelling. But when they learn the swearing thing, they can
> express their anger by words and I think that is much more constructive
> and acceptable way of expressing anger than the previous ones, so, is
> learning to swear actually a natural advancement of expressing emotions?
> Interesting thought...
> Another alternative cause... When children hear someone else swearing,
> it usually sounds very frightening, because angry adults are always
> scary (even to adults). And how do the children handle the emotion of
> getting frightened? If it is a really frightening experience, they
> usually tremble and after that they probably cry and after that they
> start making jokes about the frightening thing and laughing about it.
> And I'm just wondering if the swearing thing is actually a way to get
> rid of the fear. To imitate the source of the fear so that the child
> will feel that s/he is in control of the situation.
> I have one experience to share. I was looking after two young boys (my
> cousins) aged 5 and 8. I know that both of these boys have witnessed a
> lot of domestic violence and I would imagine that a lot of it has
> included swearing. First, they said something silly, like "shit" and
> when I didn't tell them not to, they went on and came up with a lot
> worse words and when I still didn't stop them, they started to mock me
> like I was the worst person in the world, but we all kept smiling
> through this. They kept telling me what a "stupid sonofabitch" I was and
> their vocabularity was awesome... The sad thing was that probably all
> these words they had witnessed when listening their parents fight, they
> just wanted to do it themselves so that it wouldn't feel so frightening.
> After like ten minutes of this they stopped and we had a great evening
> playing videogames and talking and no swearing was needed anymore.
> Just a few thoughts...
> Marko
> CindyK wrote:
> >
> > Hi Casey,
> >
> > I was just introduced to this idea of free speach at the schools when I
> > watched one of the SVS videos. I don't remember which one because I've
> > watched so many that it's all a blurr now. I am still trying to get used to
> > the whole foul language thing myself. At first I didn't think it was
> > 'right.' It still doesn't sit great with me but I feel it starting to
> > settle in my mind as many other SVS aspects have in the past, once I got
> > beyond the initial shock of how different it is. I think my initial
> > reaction had a lot to do with a 'what will the neighbours/inlaws/my mother!
> > think?!' attitude. So I have been mulling it over in my head for a few
> > days. How can I allow freedom of speech with limits? You can have freedom
> > of speech as long as I approve? How lame. At the same time, the idea of my
> > children being exposed to this kind of language is not on the top of my
> > desires list. (My kids are 4 and 2) Yet, I have to remember that I was
> > exposed to it and even when kids aren't allowed to do it, they do. I may
> > not have used foul language in school in front of my teachers but I
> > certainly used it. I think (now I'm getting hypothetical because it hasn't
> > happened yet) that if my kids were to pick up the nasty language habit, I
> > would try to keep it from happening around me. I know that this is not in
> > line with the whole freedom thing, but the home is different from school -
> > at least my home is right now. I wouldn't like it very much but I really
> > don't know how I'd handle it. Maybe by then, I will have evolved to the
> > point that it won't bother me, or maybe not. Good luck to you.
> >
> > CindyK
> > Sudbury, Ontario
> >
> > PS. I love the zuzuspetals thing - it's sooo sweet! I love that movie.
> > Thanks for the smile! :)
> >
> > > Subject: name calling and swearing
> > >
> > > I am new to the list and am interested in how people feel about
> > name-calling
> > > and swearing. My son (5yo) attends a free school and I am sometimes
> > > shocked by the language the kids use with each other and the staff.
> > >
> > > My DS has embraced a lot of these words and uses them often at home and in
> > > public. I am particularly concerned with the name-calling and swearing
> > done
> > > outside of the (free) school environment. Some friends, neighbors and
> > > relatives find my DS's expanding vocabulary offensive. I am worried that
> > > people will run the other way when the see us coming!
> > >
> > > This is new to me and I'm not sure how to handle this. Any ideas?
> > >
> > > Casey

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