Randomly today, my thoughts have been occupied with rude words. Specifically; What makes some words 'rude', and others acceptable? In particular, I was thinking about words like, fuck, cunt, wank, shit, piss, etc. The commonly used ones (though most I can think of would apply to this). 'Fuck' just means 'sex'. It's merely another word for that act. So, when in 'polite' company, and the topic of discussion turns to sex, why is the use of the word 'fuck' unacceptable or even offensive? It means exactly the same thing. Similarly, cunt is just another word for vagina, wank is just another word for masturbation, etc.
So why is this, then? Technically speaking, these words should cause no more alarm than the other words which mean the same thing. Let's say hypothetically that you're watching David Attenborough on Wild Life On One, and there's a scene where two buffalo are mating (another word which fuck means the same thing as), and ol' Dave is going into great detail about the process. If he were to describe what is physically occurring, he would definitely not say "The bull mounts the female, and inserts his cock into her cunt, and fucks her. He fucks her several times over a period of a few hours."
Dave would say something else, which means exactly the same thing, but his choice of words would omit 'fuck', 'cunt', and 'cock', and in their place would be 'mate', 'vagina', and 'penis'. I know that's not the greatest example in the world, because a documentary would use the scientific terms wherever practical anyway, but you get my drift. There's no real reason why these words should be more unacceptable or offensive than their counterparts. It occurs to me, that what makes these words 'rude', is to do with how they have come to be used in society, and not with the reality of what they actually mean.
For example, 'cunt' carries a great many irrational connotations which vagina doesn't. Vagina is more of a 'clean' word. It even sounds cleaner, even though there is absolutely no logical reason for that to be the case. This is because, 'cunt' is typically used when someone is trying to make something sound dirty, or even undesirable. To the point where the word has now become a common insult, and has become almost completely detached from what it actually means. "You are a cunt", etc. You would never say "You are a vagina". It wouldn't have any impact, would not be a true insult, and you would just embarrass yourself.
I believe we only find all these 'unacceptable' words offensive because of the way they have been used over the course of history. It has become ingrained in our minds that these words are rude, even though, in reality, they are no more 'offensive' than a myriad of other words we feel that we can use freely. I also think they are linked to taboo subjects. I've been thinking about it, and I cannot recall any offensive word for say, a pencil. Or a piano. Or yawning. It's only things which one might consider a 'taboo'. For instance, you generally wouldn't strike up a conversation with your nan about sex, or your penis. You would generally feel uncomfortable doing so, even if you stuck to using the scientific terms.
So basically, I think it's society which makes certain words 'rude', and not the words themselves. As we are raised, it is ingrained in us. The words themselves, truly only mean what they 'say on the tin' (so to speak), but by using them in a certain way, one may imply many things which one could not with other words. Their usage has evolved from simple verbs to a whole host of other things. So in theory, saying "She's a fucking slut" is grammatically incorrect, because you've basically just said "She's a sexing slut". Again, slut being an example of an offensive word which deals with a taboo subject, and has a much more 'polite' alternative in 'promiscuous'. The use of the word 'fuck', in that instance modifying it into 'fucking', is a way of increasing or greatening the sentance. It seems more impactful in that sentance to include the word 'fucking' than to omit it and just say "She's a slut".
So the next time someone swears and it offends you, think about why you are offended. Half the time, it is utterly irrational to find the word/s in question offensive, or unacceptable.
( Edited on 01.06.2007 14:37 by Oni )