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"Bad" words: what happened?

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When I was a kid I wasn't allowed to say "stupid" or "shut up" in the house.  In school, we would say "H-E-double hockey sticks" or some such, and teachers would say some benign equivalent to the typical 4 letter words.  I never heard people say "damn" above a whisper or without a giggle.  

What happened to bad words, or do I see the past through my rose-tinted bifocals?  

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I don't know but I hate it.  I can't believe how I can walk through Wal mart and hear the F word freely used. It is really disturbing.  

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When I was a kid, people freely said the r-word (r****d) and the OTHER f word (f****t), along with their derivatives. Not in my family, but kids said those all the time without anybody blinking.

When my mother was a kid, people said the n-word, and again, that was considered rude but not a "bad word".

We no longer use those slurs.

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I think it is regional, and possibly class related.

When I was young, I rarely heard anything.  If my Dad said Damn it, you ran!  Nothing said in the schools etc.    I moved at age 9, to a new neighbourhood, and there was a lot more said.    

 

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The use of  these words constantly is a great source of irritation to me right now.  In another thread I explained my issues with a coach for my 10 year old son's baseball team and her use of inappropriate language.  So far I haven't heard anything toward the kids during a game but last night I was working the concession stand with my 14 year old son.  She was having a conversation with me.  She was in the middle between my son and I and she could edit her speech just enough to whisper-speak the inappropriate words.  It was ridiculous!  Like my son in the on the other side of her couldn't hear the whispered words?  

I know as a 14 year old he's already heard it but I don't like it from someone in a position of leadership (president of our baseball association).

I really think it shows a lack of something, awareness? Respect? Self-control? If you are having a conversation with someone and you notice they are not cussing maybe dial back your own speech patterns?

It has made me more aware of my own speech though.  I have a mil who doesn't like two words that are used frequently in our house:. "crap" and "fart".  I know she doesn't like them but I really need to respect her wishes on those two words.

 

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I think it's either rose tinted bifocals OR your parents were very careful to shelter you from people who used course language.

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I don't really think of "stupid" and "shut up" as bad words.  But people have become more... casual (?) in their use of coarse/profane language over my lifetime. My father always swore a little, and my brother used extreme profanity, but they were the only people I knew who used it when I was young.  It was also never on TV - until cable TV came along which didn't have those restrictions, I think.  (I'm not sure about that, just my perception/memory.)

I hate the casual use of profanity and honestly I think less of people who use it all the time just as a normal part of conversation.  Not as in, I think they are evil, but I'm not really interested in pursuing relationships with people who speak that way.  I get that occasionally strong language comes out.  I also don't like it used in media, as in a facebook site I've seen "I F****** Love Science" or book titles like The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*.   I don't like seeing it "mainstreamed" like that. 

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I've got the opposite going on; maybe it's a regional thing. My mom has always cursed freely. I do remember my dad asking some guys in a McDonald's who were throwing f--- around to watch their language in front of kids (me). I picked up the habit in college (and pretty much had to drop it immediately after, as a teacher). Now I've moved south and cringe when people say OMG or darn in front of DS. Reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham to my 10yo, I edited a-- and a couple of other words out of it but felt silly about it.

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When I was a kid, stupid and shut up were totally allowed in our house.  You weren’t allowed to call a person stupid (or any other names) but something like “this stupid door won’t close!” was never considered inappropriate.  Anything above “crap” was considered a curse word and kids weren’t allowed to say those words, in school or at home.  Teachers never used them in school around the kids (and I am pretty sure that’s still the case in most schools) but they probably used some language in the teachers lounge or after school. And at home, most adults I knew might pepper their vocabulary with some of those words. I remember my mom saying the F word once when she had lost her keys and we were running late. I was so shocked I just stared at her.  I don’t think I had heard her use THAT word before then.  

I think that sort of language has always been considered impolite at least, and probably still is.  But, as our world has become more casual, people care less about some issues of politeness. Some people have never cared about language and politeness but I think most people do care less about it than they have in the past. 

I do curse occasionally and try to avoid it around the kids but it happens.  I do not allow my kids to use that language.  DD7 has some severe language delays, can’t articulate a lot of words, uses others in the wrong ways, and often stumbles and mumbles through a sentence when she can’t access the right vocabulary.  But I’ll be danged if she didn’t pick up every single curse word she heard clearly and appropriately. Lol

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Throughout my life, I’ve run across different places that handle profanity differently.

Catholic middle school:  NO bad language 

Public middle school:  Yup.  Bad language.

Publich high school:  Tons of bad language, but not from teachers.

First job on a military base:  lots and lots of language.  I mean, the sailors cussed like...sailors....

Second job at a health insurance company: 100% not allowed.  Not allowed!  Big no-no.

Third job at a different health insurance company:  Ok some of the time.  A few people took it too far and cussed non-stop.  They were asked to tone it down, but it wan’t considered a big deal.

Nowadays, I don’t have a job and my relationships are almost all with church people, so I don’t hear it among my groups, but I do hear it out in public and when I watch tv or go to movies.  

Personally, it doesn’t bother me.  I don’t use cuss words on my own because it wasn’t in my family culture growing up and as a Christian I was taught that it wasn’t godly to cuss, so I never got in the habit.  But I don’t get offended by it. Half the time I barely notice if people are cussing.  My kids notice it more than I do, because they’re not around it at home.

When my oldest got his job at McDonalds, I mentioned to him that he’d be seeing people cussing and living their lives different from us and that it was OK. I asked him not to judge people by how much they cuss, just because they do and we don’t. He was still a bit surprised by all the cussing, but he got used to it.  

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What is and isn't considered inappropriate changes over time and always has. Damn is no longer considered cursing by many, women are allowed to wear pants in public, men don' wear hats, etc. Societal norms shift. As someone else noted, other words that used to be perfectly okay to say are now considered taboo, and some words that were taboo are not okay to say. 

It's not a sign of the degradation of society, just a change. That said, my personal preference is to swear less in front of kids and I don't allow them to swear (in front of me). But it's not a moral thing. 

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I'm 50 and when I was a little girl I heard all those words from my parents, their friends and peers. I never heard it from teachers. It's not like I was living among sailors but the words were familiar. As a parent, I tried to teach my kids that curse words are impolite, especially around other people. However, I let them say a couple as part of regular vocabulary because they are just words and I don't find them bad. I never allowed the F word and immediately apologized to my children one time when I said it aloud in some heated moment that I don't even remember. I just remember them all gasping and their jaws hitting the ground. 

My oldest dd curses. I've had to ask her to please restrain herself around me as too much is overwhelming. I think she got her habit from her boyfriend and I have no idea if either of them talk that way in front of his parents.

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Oh, and as far as the N word, the bad word for African Americans. We used that word all the time when I lived in New Orleans until the age of 12. We even called Brazil nuts N.... toes. I didn't meet a black person until I moved to Georgia. That word wasn't used in that area, naturally so. I was never trying to be offensive. It was just a word everyone I knew used and wasn't considered a bad word at all.

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4 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

Oh, and as far as the N word, the bad word for African Americans. We used that word all the time when I lived in New Orleans until the age of 12. We even called Brazil nuts N.... toes. I didn't meet a black person until I moved to Georgia. That word wasn't used in that area, naturally so. I was never trying to be offensive. It was just a word everyone I knew used and wasn't considered a bad word at all.

We NEVER used that word in my house growing up.  At least, I never heard my parents use it, they may have when I wasn’t around.  I think I was probably in like 4th grade the first time I had heard it, I think it was in a book.  

 

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19 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

Oh, and as far as the N word, the bad word for African Americans. We used that word all the time when I lived in New Orleans until the age of 12. We even called Brazil nuts N.... toes. I didn't meet a black person until I moved to Georgia. That word wasn't used in that area, naturally so. I was never trying to be offensive. It was just a word everyone I knew used and wasn't considered a bad word at all.

I grew up in a middle class home, nice new neighborhood in a Houston suburb. Parents were college educated. Everyone I knew said that despicable word. I would be punished for calling my siblings a doo-doo butt but not the N word. My mother has never changed her world view, and her refusal to not use the word in front of my little kid was a big reason we are no longer close.

I seldom curse, but actually do so more online. Not sure why. I hate to see parents make jokes about their small children using the F word. People that sprinkle the F word liberally throughout their sentences, even when they’re not angry,  really turn me off.

I have a tough time watching television because too many writers resort to filthy words instead of actual dialogue.

 

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6 hours ago, Night Elf said:

Oh, and as far as the N word, the bad word for African Americans. We used that word all the time when I lived in New Orleans until the age of 12. We even called Brazil nuts N.... toes. I didn't meet a black person until I moved to Georgia. That word wasn't used in that area, naturally so. I was never trying to be offensive. It was just a word everyone I knew used and wasn't considered a bad word at all.

 

6 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

We NEVER used that word in my house growing up.  At least, I never heard my parents use it, they may have when I wasn’t around.  I think I was probably in like 4th grade the first time I had heard it, I think it was in a book.  

 

I grew up partly in New Jersey then Florida. That word was never allowed in my blue collar, barely educated family's home. I heard it but only rude people said it as my mother put it. This was in the 60s and 70s so it was not exactly "modern" times in terms of thought. The first time I heard it used freely was when I moved to South Georgia for my first teaching job in 1977. And it was used in front of black people. It was used specifically to intimidate. I was horrified. That's when I realized that by moving north to Georgia I moved farther south.

We weren't allowed to call people stupid and yet, as Tanaqui said, r****d was commonly used. I'd rather hear a damn or an f-bomb than these other words that we thankfully have agreed as a society are not appropriate. Well, most of us agree. The others, to use my mother's gentler term, are rude.

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48 minutes ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

People that sprinkle the F word liberally throughout their sentences, even when they’re not angry,  really turn me off.

 

 

I agree, although I tend to give young adults a bit of a pass. 

I often hear ds 20 cursing when he's online gaming with friends, and I'm sure they probably throw the f word around when they're together in person too. Thankfully he knows that different audiences require different language and he never curses in front of kids and only rarely curses around us. Dss 40 was the same at that age and now with two kids and one on the way I can't remember the last time I heard him use even a tame swear word. 

I do curse sometimes and even drop f-bombs occasionally but I'm usually either very angry or I just dropped something on my foot and it feels like my toe is broken ? 

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Growing up my parents would use most swear words accept for the f word or any word considered too derogatory that referred to gender or body parts. Never ever the N word and we would have been in serious trouble for that. We lived in a diverse area as well as having friends and family who were diverse. Shut up and stupid were fine and so was re**** (an aside but I heard "Shoop" by Salt n Peppa last week and forgot that word is in that song. Caught me off guard).

Now I really dislike cursing. I just think it sounds tacky. Not the occasional swear but people who sprinkle it throughout their daily speech. Some people use the F word like the word smurf, it drives me bonkers. Swearing feels adolescent to me. Many teens feel self important and grown up when they curse up a storm. At some point though, I like to see maturity kick in and hear people access the many beautiful words in the language that we have to express so many emotions. 

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I think which words are the really bad ones changes.  I mean even now I hate the Sh one but say crap all the time which seems pretty stupid.  And yes also regional.  

My six year old is fascinated by the definition of all the bad words right now.

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Honestly?  When slapping a kid and washing their mouth out with soap fell out of favor, language got looser.  Right or wrong, it's the logical result.  Also there is apparently less shame in raising a kid who doesn't always say the right thing.

That said, my 2 kids are completely different about this.  Both have heard me cuss, both know kids are not supposed to cuss (just like I heard it and knew not to say it when I was a kid).  One of my kids will not cuss around adults (though I suspect she does so around other kids).  But she will say other things I don't want to hear, such as stupid comments related to sex.  My other kid will "near cuss" and (when she's in a mood) occasionally cuss just to tick me off.  When I correct her, she says she learned it from me.  Well, apparently she knows I'm not likely to kill or maim her, so she pushes it to see what I will do.  In the grand scheme of things, I have decided that clean language is not a hill to die on.  It's only a matter of time before their cussing in certain company is considered acceptable.  They do know there's a difference between cussing at home and, say, in a job interview.

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As far as the N word and the R word ....

I grew up in a de facto segregated northern city.  My mom's generation used the N word mostly to each other, meaning "jerk."  Black people did the same to each other.  Occasionally it came out in comments about a news story re an AA rapist or something.  But I always knew that N- was not a word that we should say.  I can honestly say I never used it other than rarely to explain to someone outside the culture what it meant.  (Except, as mentioned above, I was actually taught that Brazil nuts were called N-toes.  I didn't know better as a kid.)  My kids do not hear N- at all; I had to tell them what it meant when it came up in some old books.

The R word was a little different for most of my life.  Calling someone a retard was understood the same as today calling someone a doofus.  It was likely discouraged at home just because calling each other names gets on the parents' nerves.  But like the N word, I don't even know if my kids have ever heard "retard" as an epithet.  Even in not-mean usage, I would not say someone is retarded but that they "have special needs."

But as mentioned above, my kids do say things I would not have dared to say as a kid.  So yes, things change.

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Regarding the cussing in baseball, my ds1 had a great coach who stood in front of the dugout and if he heard anything questionable (and it was anything- the mildest curse word), he would bark at the boys "There's no room for that language in baseball!"

I loved it- and we all still say to each other. Though it is mostly in jest, we all swear inside the house but are careful outside of it.

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3 hours ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

I grew up in a middle class home, nice new neighborhood in a Houston suburb. Parents were college educated. Everyone I knew said that despicable word. I would be punished for calling my siblings a doo-doo butt but not the N word. My mother has never changed her world view, and her refusal to not use the word in front of my little kid was a big reason we are no longer close.

I seldom curse, but actually do so more online. Not sure why. I hate to see parents make jokes about their small children using the F word. People that sprinkle the F word liberally throughout their sentences, even when they’re not angry,  really turn me off.

I have a tough time watching television because too many writers resort to filthy words instead of actual dialogue.

 

 

Interesting. I also grew up middle class, Houston suburb, (late 70s through mid-80s) and it wasn't a word used in our house and environs. Nor was doo-doo one I remember hearing. I don't think I heard a big lot of "DO NOT USE THIS WORD" the way it is now. But it wasn't used, regardless (if that makes sense?)

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I did not grow up hearing cussing.  If I did I probably didn't know what it meant.  I remember asking a friend on the bus in 6th grade what certain words meant.  

I did grow up in the deep south in the 70's.  I did hear the N word some, but my family, including extended family did not and I wasn't allowed to say it.  My kids, are being raised in the general same area as I was, but they never heard it and I had to tell them about it, because they heard it in some music which they had no context for. 

Nowadays I do cuss at home.  My older teens are allowed to cuss if the little one isn't around.  I don't like cussing, but I got in a habit of it in my early 20's and it's hard habit to break.  I tell my kids to really try not to do it.  

I also heard r when I was a kid and  also another word with same meaning starting with M.  One of my grandparents said this and I was always confused.  

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I am glad that language has loosened up some on of the mild stuff. I see a difference between cussing and saying shut up or crap.

I am glad that language has tightened up on some of the derogatory or prejudicial terms and sayings.  Hopefully that reflects an actual shift in people's thinking towards others, though I'm not so naive to think that is the case for everyone.

I think that the more blatant forms of cussing have always been present in some situations/ venues and not in others.  It is still inappropriate to talk that way in local schools, organizations (like the Y) and most work places.  At least where I live, anyway.  Even the most ardent pottymouths have been able to curb their language when they need to. 

I also have had lots of people curb their language voluntarily around me when they have realized that I do not use certain words.  I have never shamed them for their language or asked them to stop but they are good people despite some of their language choices and have shown it by being considerate of their language use. 

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3 hours ago, vonfirmath said:

 

Interesting. I also grew up middle class, Houston suburb, (late 70s through mid-80s) and it wasn't a word used in our house and environs. Nor was doo-doo one I remember hearing. I don't think I heard a big lot of "DO NOT USE THIS WORD" the way it is now. But it wasn't used, regardless (if that makes sense?)

Oh, I was a kid in the 60’s...I mean, my parents and other adults taught me MLK was a violent trouble maker. I’m pretty sure they chose the suburbs rather than the city because of the all white school district.

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Well, I have always worked in secondary education, so I really can't comment.  I hear it all day every day.

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I really think it is class related.  I started working last summer with an organization for at-risk teens.  Very colorful vocabularies!  And it is just sort of blase to say anything that I would consider seriously "bad".  Not a big deal to these kids - they don't say it and look at me with embarrassment or anything. If anything, it's a way that they all relate together - same culture through "rough" language.  The rest of the staff also have potty mouths, and it's just normal.  (I haven't worked outside of my home in years and years, so I'm not sure if that is normal, or if it is just the culture of the place I work - as in dealing with these kids makes everyone need to swear?)(sometimes when I say "Oh My Gosh!!" I realize that I must sound like the most ridiculous prude in the world.

We had a Bingo event at my work this week.  The kids were totally excited and one of the kids kept saying G-d Dammit! With emphasis!! when he didn't win.  The volunteer (a president of a local bank) who was running bingo was great with the kids - he didn't get offended or act shocked, he just said "it is scientifically proven that swearing decreases your chance at winning bingo"!  It cracked me up and reminded that particular kid to watch his language, without embarrassing him.  At one point a different kid said "Jesus Christ!!" and the Bingo guy said "he's not going to help!"  Anyway, it was a friendly, lighthearted way to remind our kids to be careful in the words they use.  I think it's important for kids to understand that swearing is not always appropriate, and these specific kids often have never learned that.  

Shut up was a bad word when I was a kid, and stupid (along with shut up) was a bad word for my kids!  Now that my youngest is a teen, I don't care about those kind of "bad words", but hell and damn (and more) are still not okay at our house, and I hope my kids don't use them.  

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21 minutes ago, WendyLady said:

<snip>

We had a Bingo event at my work this week.  The kids were totally excited and one of the kids kept saying G-d Dammit! With emphasis!! when he didn't win.  The volunteer (a president of a local bank) who was running bingo was great with the kids - he didn't get offended or act shocked, he just said "it is scientifically proven that swearing decreases your chance at winning bingo"!  It cracked me up and reminded that particular kid to watch his language, without embarrassing him.  At one point a different kid said "Jesus Christ!!" and the Bingo guy said "he's not going to help!"  Anyway, it was a friendly, lighthearted way to remind our kids to be careful in the words they use.  I think it's important for kids to understand that swearing is not always appropriate, and these specific kids often have never learned that.  

<snip>

 

Yesterday I was in a store and the cashier dropped something while waiting on me and said in frustration "oh Jesus."  Of course I have heard people use that as an exclamation before, but I am pretty sure it's the first time I've heard someone in a customer service role say it on the job.  I didn't say anything to her about it but I was pretty stunned.  I do find that offensive though I understand most people don't mean it that way. For some reason, when people talk about avoiding offensive language, it seems (in my experience anyway) they tend not to think of God/Jesus as words that might be offensive to others when used.... improperly. 

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I hadn't really heard any cussing (minus the occasional "hell" or "damn") until I started middle school.  I learned all the main ones pretty quickly while waiting at the bus stop ;).  I don't remember a *lot* of cussing while actually in school in middle school (sometimes kids would try it out to be edgy or daring), but in high school there was a ton of cussing heard between classes.  I didn't cuss much till college, but I let quite a few words fly in anger - my kids heard far more far earlier than I did, but they are mostly good about not using them.  I only cuss at home, though, not in public.  In general, I don't hear a lot of cussing while out and about - the main exposure my kids have had to cussing is me :blush:. 

Cussing doesn't really offend me, as such - I'm too desensitized to the words - but I am trying to lessen my cussing, or at least reserve it for the situations that merit it.  Partly because frequent cussing makes me lazy in my speech - instead of finding the precise word, I just cuss - and I've noticed that cussing over little things makes them feel like bigger things.  And also because I've become rather uncomfortable with what the cuss words express.  Calling upon God to damn someone or something to hell is quite a big thing, and I do believe I ought to reserve it for when it's actually called for, or else it's blasphemy.  I used to be more comfortable with the f-word and s-word - vulgarity instead of blasphemy, cussing instead of cursing - but I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the f-word.  Using sex to express anger at someone or something (often in a threatening-the-object-of-your-anger-with-penetration kind of way) - common uses of the f-word - that's basically threatening (metaphorical) sexual violence.  And using the f-word to mean sex in general, or as a general intensifier, demeans sex.  Either way, it's not what sex is meant for, and it's not how I want to (mis)treat sex.  So I'm really trying, although it's slow going.

That leaves the s-word, I guess.  Crass and vulgar, but I don't think I have moral qualms about connecting bad things and poop ;), so long as the bad things in question merit the comparison.  The kids use "stupid" as a swear all. the. time. (and dh and I do too, to an extent), and I'm trying to limit it to situations that merit it (and *not* to use it to refer to people).  IDK, words matter, kwim?  There's something to be said to using the words that best fit the situation, not the first ones that come out of your mouth.  And I know from first-hand experience that habitually using any sort of default word as a placeholder, where context and emotion fill in the otherwise empty meaning, can easily get you out of the habit of thinking through what you say and mean.

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It’s not rose-colored glasses for me. I really did not hear bad language anywhere in my lost on the plains location until high school from some more colorful older boys who didn’t realize they could be overheard or they wouldn’t have talked that way. Then I went to a Baptist university where I didn’t hear that language. And then my working environments were very Christian. I had such a shock when I married a military guy and lived on a base in my early 30s. I had no idea there were bad words I had never heard before and they were used so freely in general conversation. 

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Honestly?  When slapping a kid and washing their mouth out with soap fell out of favor, language got looser.  Right or wrong, it's the logical result.  Also there is apparently less shame in raising a kid who doesn't always say the right thing.

 

No, it's not. I'm sorry, but there is no correlation between lack of child abuse and increase in "bad" language.

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16 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

When I was a kid, people freely said the r-word (r****d) and the OTHER f word (f****t), along with their derivatives. Not in my family, but kids said those all the time without anybody blinking.

When my mother was a kid, people said the n-word, and again, that was considered rude but not a "bad word".

We no longer use those slurs.

 

I don't know what the r word is.  Can anyone tell me in such a way it it isn't too offensive?

I grew up with a longshoreman for a dad, so I heard some words, but the f word was very rarely spoken.  I still find it shocking when people use it for an adjective. 

 

 

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r word would be for someone who was mentally challenged but was usually applied to inanimate objects or really asinine rules. We were still using it in the 80's but it went out somewhere in the 90's thankfully.

 

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We still use "the r word" formally in some contexts, as in music - retard in music simply means "play it slow" and in that context it's not offensive - though it may startle somebody who isn't used to it!

In the US, what used to be referred to as "mental retardation" appears to now be called "intellectual disability". In the UK, they say "learning disability", which can be confusing to Americans - when we say "learning disability" we mean dyslexia or ADHD. In the UK, conditions like that appear to be called "learning difference".

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I think it's always been a matter of perspective. 

My stepmother had a laundry list of words we couldn't say. "Stupid" and "shut up" being some of them -- but the grown ups could say them; just not us kids. I grew up in the late 80's and 90's.

My husband grew up in the 70's, went to Catholic schools his entire school career (in a time and place where nuns still ran the game), and was raised in an Italian and devoutly Catholic household (compared to my parents, who identified as a certain religion, but didn't practice or go to church with any frequency). He didn't say the obvious "curse" words (da*n, sh*t, etc.), but random words like "stupid" were fair game. He was pretty amazed that I grew up considering "crap" to be a bad word. He doesn't (consider it a bad word).

Despite not being allowed to use such words as a child, I have the mouth of a sailor as an adult. 

We make a clear distinction with our kids, with regards to how they say certain words. Calling each other "stupid" is not okay -- saying that some random thing is "stupid" is fine. "Crap" is officially an okay word in our house. Obvious curse words are not allowed by kids, which is completely hypocritical of me, and if I'm honest I probably wouldn't mind so much if it weren't for that we live in the south and I don't want my kids to be the reason some sweet old lady keels over with a heart attack. 

When The Marvelous Flying Marco was first speaking (ASD; nonverbal until 4), his first real phrase was "Son of a B*tch." Courtesy yours truly, unfortunately. It's one of my favorites in traffic. I said not a darn thing. I was so thrilled he was talking, that I said absolutely nothing about it being a bad word or phrase. Even when he said it in public. After so long in speech therapy and intervention, nobody was going to convince me to tell him not to say it. And, frankly, his enunciation was so freakin' spot-on! Similar story when he started saying "a*shole." But that one came out "az-ole," so only I really knew what he was saying -- and since it was, again, my fault he was saying (another traffic favorite of mine), I thought it best to just ride out.

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I don’t think much of all the books I constantly see out now with some crass title. (Oh, except for that clever crosstitch book! I’m sorry, it’s so funny...) We were never permitted to use any Grade A curse words growing up, yet we constantly, relentlessly used “stupid” and “shut up,” and, like others here, I did not know the N-word for black people was a slur/inappropriate. (Not that I knew many black people at the time, either, so it didn’t generally come up. But nobody acted like that was inapppropriate to say.) 

I don’t generally use many such words, though I have lightened up in the past few years. There are a couple I will use for a particular phrasing when I am chatting with another adult (if I believe they will accept it). Like, it’s just not funny to say someone went “bat-doodie nuts”; you have to say, “bat-sh!t nuts” or it just doesn’t have the right cadence. I don’t throw F-bombs around, though. I was pretty stunned when a friend of mine included one on a rant on social media. I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know what purpose my friend thought this would achieve. 

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Nevermind. Someone tell me to go to bed. 

Edited by Quill
Nevermind

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In my experience, it has nothing to do with class. My two best friends irl have Master's degrees and are solidly middle class or above, and we curse like sailors when we get together. It doesn't seem to be generational thing, either- I'm 34, and my aforementioned friends are in their fifties and sixties.

We never say words that are insulting *at* people, though. When I drop something, I might say, "Oh for f***'s sake." But I would never tell my kids to shut up or call them stupid.  I definitely prefer this to the way it was when I grew up, where if you said "damn" you were in big trouble, but calling someone a stupid fat r-word was a-okay.

It reminds me of when I was a kid, and for several years there were a couple kids next door who bullied me quite a bit. One time they convinced me they were going to beat me up if I didn't say "shit," so I did. And they ran and told my mom. And I got spanked and yelled at and grounded. It didn't matter that they threatened me or that I was crying when I said it. Kids will be kids and bullying was normal (or at least that was the thinking then) but saying a swear word was unforgivable. That kind of thinking is idiotic. Intent matters.

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When I put my daughter in pre K she informed me stupid and shut up were bad words.  I disagreed and told her so.  I agreed they could be rude words and that we shouldn't call people stupid.  I did not agree that I could not call an object stupid.  While I can see how saying shut up is rude, I never considered that a  'bad word'.  There is a difference to me between saying the f bomb and saying stupid or shut up.  I don't consider every rude phrase to be cursing or a 'bad word'.  

In truth my children have heard it all since my husband claims he married a sailor.  Cursing is a habit like any other, and it can be hard to break.  I  have gotten better but all bets are off if I experience extreme pain. It is a long engrained habit.  I tell my kids that even though if it seems hypocritical to not want them to curse, I really am trying to prevent them from developing a habit that is hard to break.  For years I didn't care about cursing.  Now that I do, it is really very hard to stop. 

Ultimately though,  people can hurt each other just as easily without using any curse words or bad words.  I would be much more concerned with my kids saying something mean like I hate you or I wish you would die than dropping an F bomb if they stub their toe (not that they would do either- I am just giving an example!).  Context matters to me and in our family kindness is very important.  I have tried to teach that all words have the power to build up or tear down. 

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In a funny aside, my husband curses constantly. Like...many times a day and if at all frustrated or even not. He peppers his language with creative combinations of foul language. I do not love it, but it is what it is. I curse MUCH less and only when really losing my temper totally or in great pain. 

Which parent have the kids mimicked the few times they said a bad word? 

Me. 

Cracks my husband up and annoys me to no end. Sigh. 

Most years I try to give up cursing at lent. 

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12 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

 

In the US, what used to be referred to as "mental retardation" appears to now be called "intellectual disability". 

Yep. My degree actually says College of Education and under that, Mental Retardation. 

 

And no, it's not about class. People of all classes curse. People of all classes don't curse.

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6 hours ago, Lady Florida. said:

Yep. My degree actually says College of Education and under that, Mental Retardation. 

 

And no, it's not about class. People of all classes curse. People of all classes don't curse.

 

WOW!  Can you imaging putting that degree on your resume as it is stated?

I have a friend who uses that word all the time and it drives me BATTY.

And yes to the class situation.  I hear it EVERYWHERE now.  Ok, maybe not at church.....

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It’s not a class thing. I’ve seen most classes use colorful words with regularity. The judgement of a persons use of colorful words does seem to be class based. 

I grew up hearing a variety of colorful language all over the place.

I’m glad derogatory and prejudicicial words are unacceptable. But I have no issue with an otherwise colorful vocabulary. I find the idea of signaling out “bad” words a bit ridiculous.  

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I will say that my experience is that there are some groups of people that tend to let the curse words fly more freely.  I can say for sure that my DH curses MUCH less now than he did back when he was a prison guard.  He still curses and certainly there is some language in his office, but there is definitely less at the office than at there prison, there are some fairly clear unwritten rules.  But his at home language, while still a bit spicy, has seen a dramatic decrease in cussing.  So I think if we are going to talk about it as “class thing” there can be some truth to that in a general sense. 

But the way I was reading the idea of it being a class thing is more like people who use an F bomb for every other word have no class.  

 

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1 hour ago, DawnM said:

 

WOW!  Can you imaging putting that degree on your resume as it is stated?

 

Those were the medical and educational terms at the time. And in schools there was EMR and TMR, Educable, Trainable

1 hour ago, PinkyandtheBrains. said:

It’s not a class thing. I’ve seen most classes use colorful words with regularity. The judgement of a persons use of colorful words does seem to be class based. 

 

Exactly. The judgement of people who swear tries to make it simply a matter of class. Actual use of such words crosses all economic and social groups.

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34 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

Those were the medical and educational terms at the time. And in schools there was EMR and TMR, Educable, Trainable

<snip>

 

I hope I'm not going to get in trouble for this question, but how/when did that term come to be offensive?  Just to be clear, I don't use the word, I've taught my kids not to use it. I am not promoting its use. I certainly would correct anyone who used it, particularly as a playground insult. I think "developmental disabilities" is the word I've come to hear/use most.  

I have a cousin, born in the 60s, who was "mentally retarded." Sometimes people said he was "slow."  Which is what "retard" (verb) means, right?   It wasn't an offensive term; it was descriptive.  Clinical.  

M-W dictionary defines retard (verb):   to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment

Retarded (adjective):  Sometimes offensive slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development characterized by mental retardation.

So, can anyone tell me what is objectively wrong with the term?  So bad that adults can't even type it when discussing it ("r-word")?   If you (general you, not LF) are about to accuse me of insensitivity, please read my first paragraph again.  I am just asking.

ETA: Lady Florida I'm just quoting you, not accusing you of being prepared to accuse me of insensitivity.  :-)

 

 

Edited by marbel
clarity!
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9 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

Those were the medical and educational terms at the time. And in schools there was EMR and TMR, Educable, Trainable

Exactly. The judgement of people who swear tries to make it simply a matter of class. Actual use of such words crosses all economic and social groups.

Those terms were not slurs.  I worked for a organization that has "mentally retarded" in the name.  It was respectful of people with learning delays and still is, though they took "retarded" out of the name (in the 90's, I believe).  That doesn't mean that I don't think that terms change and that the organization shouldn't change to fit the new terms.  It just means that you can't go back and call something a slur that wasn't a slur in the past just because meanings or connotations have changed.  (Not saying that you are saying this, Lady Florida.  Just piggy-backing off of you.) 

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