(some of these horrific curses would never see the light of day on a respectable blog like this one)
I swear a lot in real-life, often when it’s not needed; I’ll use ‘shit’ where ‘bad’ would work just as well, or throw in a ‘bastard’ when an ‘idiot’ would, if anything, be more appropriate. In recent months, I’ve tried to tone this down, so all the new people I meet at uni won’t immediately think I’m a dismissive twat, and because an over-reliance on curses as a source of cheap thrills and simplistically exaggerated responses means it’s harder for me to use words to indicate more complex responses to things when the need arises, such as in essays or bits of fiction.
And it’s this latter reason that I think of when actively deciding not to swear in these posts; on an About page somewhere I wrote that I want to offend people with my views, not my words, and while this is true, I’m now aware that I need to broaden out this ‘offending’ – I want to generate interest in, and responses to, the things I write because I have interesting things to say, not because I’m capable of spitting out opinions in block capitals and expletives like a shitty, yet annoyingly highly-viewed, YouTube series.
On the other side, a reluctance to use curses casually reinforces the strength and meaning of those curses. A while back on the Internet I saw a quote from a writer that they never swear in their texts, because a simple ‘he swore’ conveys all the meaning that would otherwise be suggested by actually spelling out the curse; but such a stance conflates all swear words into a singular meaning, one often archetyped as an angry or simplistic reaction to a thing, when in reality they’re different words for different meanings. So if I tone down my use of the word ‘prick’, from being indicative of people who annoy me, to a specific referral to aggressive or obnoxious individuals, that more particular, and accurate, meaning will be more consistently conveyed whenever I choose to say or write ‘prick’.
Because ultimately words, whether they’re ‘curses’ or not, are about creating meaning; and just as overusing non-expletive words dilutes their power, swearing too much weakens and deindividualises those swears. And whether I want to be a serious academic writer in the future, or just a guy who swears a lot, it’s important to keep my tools for expression as sharp and as distinct as possible.