Monday, April 9, 2012

The use of Swear Words (Expletives)

Swear Words (Expletives)
I don’t like using swear words in my novels and my particular abjuration is the “F” word that I doubt was invented before the twentieth century and which I abhor. I grew up in England after WWII and the worst word I ever used was “bugger”. My father told me I should never use a word without a meaning in the dictionary and therefore “bugger” was not allowed. However, if one prescribed a meaning to certain words, one could say that “bugger” means someone who bugs someone else or annoys them. “annoy" being a more common word in old England.
“Bloody Hell” is used more commonly now than would have been used in Old England and my young ears rarely heard it spoken in my family circles since my parent’s or relatives didn’t use it even though swear words seem to slip out if they are used often; for them it never did.
To return to the “F” word, which is a word many novelists, even those writing historical novels at the time of Henry VIII or earlier, which is definitely out of place, put in their novels. The more than twenty years I lived in England, I never heard it used. What is its literal meaning? It is “fornication”, which is in the dictionary and rarely heard spoken aloud yet it is more precise. Of course, the “F” word is also used as an expression or an expletive nowadays.
“SOB” is another common expletive; but what is a “bitch”? It is a word looked down upon because of the connotation that it implies a fallen woman, wicked woman, or prostitute. However, the word is more relative to a female dog.
Proper words used to describe male and female parts are rarely used today because such words as “balls”, “nuts”, “pussy” etc. are used instead. To me as a nurse in my previous life, the correct terms make more sense and therefore my perfect men in my novels teach their innocent women to use proper words, in private of course, since one would not embark on a sexual discussion in an open conversation in the 18th and 19th century; that was definitely taboo.
That being said, I understand such words would be more normal in contemporary novels but one doesn’t need to overdo it. Too many “F” words take away from the story and in my opinion make it unreadable.

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