The Unreliable Guide To… Swearing
Australia, land of the “Where-the-bloody-hell-are-you” tourism campaign, was once a great swearing nation. When I first arrived here in 1996 I heard a session from parliament where one angry pollie stated, “Mr Speaker, let me put it to you that the member for such-and-such is a lying prick!”
Fantastic, I thought, tell it how it is! I want to live here. But lately, the teddy bear-waving, potty mouth-fearing guardians of political correctness have clamped down on the glorious vernacular that is our heritage. F*ck that! The Unreliable Guide has some tips and tricks to help you regain your linguistic flair…
I come from a long line of quality cursers. Stringing great sentences of oaths together in an entertaining form is something many Poms take pride in. “Bugger off you bloody sod!” is my mum’s particular favourite when driving. The mighty Stephen Fry asserts that, “Swearing is a really important part of one’s life,” and I agree.
The namby-pamby campaigners against our freedom to say ‘f*ck’ like to assert that swearing is a sign of poor vocabulary. It’s typically quite the opposite, but if you are saying ‘f*ck/c*nt/shit’ every other word then you have totally missed the point and you are debasing the power of these words. An expletive should explode like a firework, not dribble out like diarrhoea.
Here’s an example of sloppy swearing: “So I f*ckin says to the f*cker, what the f*ck do you f*ckin think you’re f*ckin doing?” Where’s the drama in that? The power? Now imagine he’d saved his expletive up for the appropriate moment: “So I said to him, what the f*ck do you think you’re doing?” See? That f*ck is strong.
Fight for Your Right to Say F*ck
In the film Risky Business Tom Cruise’s character is taught by his friend Miles to say, “What the f*ck… if you can’t say it you can’t do it.” Cruise does say it and he does get laid. Great. But when the censors got their hands on that film they overdubbed the words to, “What the heck,” thus negating the sexual motif of the film and also making no sense. These people should go heck themselves.
Swearing Is Good for You
Swearing can be abusive, but more often it’s cathartic, used as a response to calamity or pain. Researchers at Keele University won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for their work on proving that swearing significantly relieves the effects of physical pain. Next time you stub your bastard toe, let the expletives flow. At Stamford University they found a direct correlation between swearing and honesty – the more people swear, the less likely they are to tell lies. This may explain why the word ‘oath’ means both ‘solemn promise’ and ‘profane expression’.
Appreciate the Power and Poetry of Swearing
The comedian Billy Connolly is famous for swearing, but if you listen to his performances each expletive is chosen with care. He, like Stephen Fry, understands that if words are weapons, swear words are mighty swords, so don’t dull them with overuse. Take joy in your curses; understand where their explosive power will serve you best.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests that the next time the world is a buggering bastard, or you have to contend with unbridled f*ckwittery, you stand up and yell, “Double f*ck-hell and arse-tits”. I guarantee you will feel better.