Bad Words

A blogger I really like writes:

I grew up in a home where “heck” was a bad word. And “dang.” And “gee.” And “gosh.” Heck, after all, was just code for “hell,” and dang was code for “damn,” and gee was code for “Jesus,” and gosh was code for “God.” And thus they were all off limits. Shoot was about the only word that was okay, which is weird because I’m pretty sure that if the other words are really code, that one’s code for “shit.”

As a philologist, I always find it very curious how people invest clusters of sounds with a lot of power over their own psyche. Words scare them, make them cringe, traumatize them to the point where they don’t allow themselves to pronounce them even when they are at home alone.

Which words were considered “bad” in your home when you were growing up? Do you have any forbidden words in your home now?

9 comments on “Bad Words

  1. When my mother was really, really angry, she used to say, “bloody hell”.

    “Hell’s teeth!” was another expression of being right on the edge.

  2. Typically it is not the word but the intent behind it. Though with that said I definately didnt want my 3yr old running around the house yelling fuck you, fuck you, fuck……….I think you get the point. ;)

  3. Here’s a funny in regards to bad words. My daughter was listening to her mother and grandmother talking when Meme(grandmother) said something with the word bitch in it. My 4yr old daughter then said, Meme, thats a bad word……….youre supposed to say fucking bitch. I think Meme almost had a coronary at that moment. ;)
    We did find out afterwards where she learned that colourful piece of language. :)

  4. I never heard the words shit, fuck, and damn, in my home growing up; I learned them from other kids in school in my teens. Some others, such as god, hell, and devil, were used only in explicitly religious contexts and were considered sinful if spoken in any other context.

    My mother still cannot enjoy a theatrical production which has this ‘terrible’ language in it.

  5. My parents were very against any of the traditional swear words, especially when I was a kid. I used to say “fudge” or “phooey” or “drat”, but really anything that had the intent of being an expletive was considered inappropriate. The intent was the problem, not the content. My parents were very careful to not swear around me until I was probably in late middle school – I got most of my colorful language education by listening to what the other kids called out to me on the playground when the aids and teachers weren’t watching.

  6. I even don’t consider “hell” or “devil” real swear words. :)

    In my family we didn’t swear and I don’t remember any bad words. Only 2 cases, in which a particular word made an impression:
    1) Hearing how cutting the word “a degenerate” sounded (about somebody outside of family, who deserved it, but still). Much worse than those swear words in your post.
    2) This is not what you meant, I suppose, but a Russian swear word for “a Jew” has that power over me. I wouldn’t want even to read a book, in which it appears a lot.

    • “This is not what you meant, I suppose, but a Russian swear word for “a Jew” has that power over me. I wouldn’t want even to read a book, in which it appears a lot.”

      – Yes, same here.

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