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Profanity is a tough issue because it's so cultural. A great example is the word 'suck' - it's pretty well accepted in the vernacular today when expressing 'very bad', but I remember my 8th-grade English teacher (an older lady) talking about how she'd prefer if we didn't use it. It used to have sexual connotations, moreso than it does today. Same deal with my wife's grandmother: that word will get you a glare if you're not talking about what a vacuum cleaner does.

So it's a weird feedback loop - if words aren't deemed to be profane, no one thinks twice about them. If words are deemed to be profane, some people will ban them, which makes other people not use them just because they're not supposed to be used.

Censorship can actually propagate profanity, in this sense. As language changes, words can become unacceptable (How many Richards are using the common nickname these days? Would you use the three-letter British term for a cigarette anymore?) or acceptable (apparently 'leg' and 'bull' were frowned upon in Victorian times).

I'm aware of all this. And, to be honest, I'm not as offended as my comments probably make me out to be. I usually just pass this stuff by, but since someone had already commented I figured I'd chime in as well.

For me, there are words that I don't want to say for cultural reasons, so I follow the 'you are what you eat' principle. If I don't saturate myself with language that I don't want to use, I'm less likely to use it. Also, there are often times when I find that stronger language is reflective of attitudes that I don't want to have. So I wouldn't replace 'suck' with 'stink' when I want to express that someone isn't good at something; rather, I'd try to phrase my criticism in a more constructive way.




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