Mrs. Turner, You Said the “C” Word!

WARNING: There may be words, or the suggestion of words, in this post that you may find offensive. My purpose is not to offend, but to open a line of thinking. 

Parental advisory

“Mrs. Turner, you said the “c” word!”
The young man was indignant. I stopped, hit “rewind” on my brain, and scrambled to figure out what “c” word I had uttered. Several unpleasant words I knew I hadn’t said came to mind before I realized the source of the offense. I’d said “crap” in reference to something about the lies of the enemy.

I attempted to continue, silently wondering when “crap” became a bad word, and if there were other bad words I had yet to learn.

Photo by Tuassi via Flickr

What makes a word—a collection of letters jumbled together to represent an intelligible sound—a “bad” word? When does a word go from being merely a neutral word to being a cuss word, a curse word, or profanity? If the transformation of a word from a “good” word to a “bad” word is related to its meaning, in which case “poop” and the “s” word would fall in the same category as “crap”? Why, then, are the words “stool,” “dung,” and “excrement” considered acceptable? That would mean the word “urinate” is OK, but “piss” is not, and “pee” is questionable. Hmm. Logically, that line of reasoning is about as solid as a fishnet stocking.

Perhaps it’s related to language. The words “butt” and “buttocks” are considered impolite by some, so they use “derriere” instead. Translating a “bad” English word into French makes it acceptable? Does that mean the use of British, French, or German swear words is less offensive (as long as you aren’t speaking to a Brit, a Frenchman, or a German) to God and society?

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If it’s not related to the meaning of the word or the particular language in which the word is said, it must be related to the intention, or motive, for the word’s use. Hence the reason it’s OK to go for a ride on an ass of the equine variety, but it’s not OK to act like one. When referring to a female dog, you can call her a bitch. But to call your wife that is not only to declare yourself a dog, it’s to put your life at risk. (Never call the person responsible for your food preparation nasty names.)

LemonOf course, that logic puts many of the words that slip from our lips in the curse word category. Mean words, fear-filled words, hateful words, lying words, words full of doubt and unbelief. To “curse” something means to speak evil of a thing or a person. It’s the opposite of “bless.”

That means calling my house a dump, or my car a lemon is the equivalent of calling the car a piece of s*** or the house a pile of same, even though we’d never be rebuked for saying “dump” or “lemon.”

If we want to play at being the “word police,” picking and choosing violations of speech from among our vocabularies, I think we must begin to weigh all our words on the same scale — by intention and motive, not merely by a certain combination of letters. I’d much rather hear a string of four-letter words spoken without malicious intent than 30 seconds of 25-cent negativity intended to mislead and manipulate. In my opinion, that kind of “language” is far more profane than the utterance of a common cuss word.

Just a thought. 

9 thoughts on “Mrs. Turner, You Said the “C” Word!

  1. Jeanette Levellie says:

    Wow, you have some excellent points here. My husband can make 'boogars' sound like a really bad swear word when he is angry at a house repair and says it three times, increasing in volume each time! I wonder what the French for boogar is…

  2. Niki Turner says:

    LOL! Do French people HAVE boogers?
    My husband's latest is "son of a gun" which never really meant anything to me until I read an article about its origin… The phrase comes from babies born to "loose women" who got pregnant on ships and birthed their babies between the cannons below decks. If the baby's paternity was unknown, the birth was recorded as a "son of a gun." Makes me wonder where some of our other innocuous phrases came from.

  3. Heather says:

    That is so funny! And TRUE! A friend of mine mentioned once she was sheltering her daughter from calling her bottom a "butt". I was totally confused. I had never considered butt to be crude. What else are they going to call it at 2? I also had a woman at church chastise my son for saying darn. Again – never a word I considered a curse.
    Seems like I could go on and on with these stories.
    I am glad you say crap too.

  4. Sandy says:

    You always write on such everyday topics and make us think. This one was really good. Thanks!

  5. Niki says:

    Oh friend! I love this topic. I've been called a "so-called-christian" because I say damn, crap, and ass. Those are my three bad words. Pastors wives shouldn't say such things. We should be setting an example. My salvation is in danger and I don't really love the Lord if I can so easily use words like that. (Yeah yeah – thanks for the judgment.)

    I too think it is the intent of the words that matters. I don't think I should use my speech to harm others – no matter what the words are that I use.

    The "F" word is offensive to most of the people I know, but to my street friends, depending on the phrase being spoken, it replaces the words "sex" or "very" as in "That is 'F'ing cool." I choose not to use that word. Some of my friends choose not to use MY three "bad" words. Also, certain "good" words have become "bad" words over the years,like the word "gay."

    I could talk about this topic for a long time, but I'm going to stop before the grammar police come to take my writer card away for my overuse/misuse of quotations marks. 😉 Great post Niki!

  6. Niki Turner says:

    Heather,
    Don't you think making words so taboo makes them all that much more tempting?
    We had friends who used the word "booty" instead of butt in their household. Egad. Must have been before "booty call" became popular. : )

  7. Niki Turner says:

    Heather,
    Don't you think making words so taboo makes them all that much more tempting?
    We had friends who used the word "booty" instead of butt in their household. Egad. Must have been before "booty call" became popular. : )

  8. Niki Turner says:

    Sandy,
    Thank you, dear one! Apparently, I spend entirely too much time thinking, and it keeps burbling out on my blog!
    <3

  9. Niki Turner says:

    Niki,
    Ha ha! Mark me guilty of the quote mark overload crime, as well!
    I find it so frustrating that Christians judge one another's salvation or lack thereof based on their use of these "questionable" words.
    A lady from our church goes into the jail every week to minister to the inmates. Another church sends a couple of their leaders, and they have attacked this lady for not using KJV-only to share the Gospel, right in front of the people they are ALL supposed to be showing the love of God to. It's another extension of the language debate. It's crazy!

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