Friday, June 27, 2014

The great wide open world of words

Jumping Jehoshaphat, it is exciting times living in and around Baytown, Texas!  I have to confess, I can’t recall ever writing that old phrase, but in the almost total absence of colorful expressions in our present speech, its purpose is to make a point.  Oh, we have colorful expressions all right, but most of them can’t be uttered in the presence of children and refined folks.  Jumping Jehoshaphat surely can and if you, like me are bombarded daily with expletive-laced conversation, any expression absent of vulgar rhetoric is a refreshing change.

Each and every day we make the decision on what comes out of our mouth.  Not only what words we will use, but what information we pass to another person.  Some of us are very guarded while others “let er (bleeping) rip” and recklessly babble on like a used car salesman eager to make a sale and saying whatever unfiltered nonsense that comes to mind.

We know wonderful people who open their mouth and enlighten others with their opinions and personal experiences abounding with interesting topics, while other friends, work mates, and acquaintances are as an open septic tank, spewing verbal waste like a sewer pipe.  We tolerate them because they are our friends and coworkers, but are they someone we want our kids to listen to and imitate their speech habits?  Most likely not.
The television will supply all the negative speech they can soak up and if that’s not enough, the music industry will lend a hand.  As parents, the only tools we have to teach our children a higher form of speech are what we teach them and our personal example.  If you are a member of a religious assembly, there is a strong third source.

If you are the kind of person who guards their speech, you find it perplexing when people curse, swear, or use profanity with unguarded emphatic zeal.  It’s F-this and F-that from the time they open their mouth until you are far enough away from them that you can’t hear it.  I hardened myself to it a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean I like it.  I will arrive at my place of employment and within 5 minutes, I’ve heard enough cursing to last the whole day – more than I will hear in the 4 days I am off work.

What I hear in just a few minutes after arriving are friends who have long ago lost their ability to insert colorful and descriptive adverbs and adjectives in their speech.  The more expletives they use, the easier it is to substitute a (bleep) for an actual adjective.  Before long one of their sentences, minus the curse words, wouldn’t even make sense and there is no apparent desire by them to cease speaking in this manner.  I’ve often thought I should record one of these conversations and then play it back to them, bleeping out all the trash words.

I do believe they would say, "(Bleeeeeep!) I had no idea; I (bleeeeping) talked like that".  What would be more amazing is if they said, “Holey Macarena!”  I’m not going to hold my breath on that though.  Now let me back up and say that a colorful curse word does have a certain place at just the right time, although to be honest, I do not indulge, but sometimes it is downright funny when certain people blurt one out by accident.

A certain lady saw a mouse and before she could stop herself, out came, “Bleep!”  That was certainly fitting and indeed hilarious – and most unexpected.  One time I heard a preacher get so fired up about a witch that he accidently dropped the W and substituted a B.  It was stunned silence in the congregation until he said, “Well, she was!”  I can’t recall laughing any harder than I did that day.

If I remember correctly, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld said that any comedian, who uses a lot of profanity in their skit, simply doesn’t have enough good material, or something along those lines.  This isn’t always true mind you, but I agree with it.  Cursing has lost its shock value, which incidentally used to make people feel uncomfortable and hence, they laughed.  They laughed because they were embarrassed or uncomfortable in mixed company.  It’s no longer true and some “ladies” now curse way more than the historically vulgar-talking men around them.

The Daily Show’s host Jon Stewart regularly uses the F word in his show and his audience thinks it’s just fine.  His show is cutting edge with top notch writers and exposes a plethora of political wrongs, but I don’t watch it period.  It’s too much cursing for my palate.  Drop the GD and F-laden humor all you want John, but give me the humor and satire without it please or I will not watch.

I’m not a holier than thou Johnny do-good guy - or a Miss Priss; I just prefer to not hear it, so I don’t use it even when I am angry or distressed.  That’s right; I do not. People know I am angry when out of my mouth come words which describe what I am angry about and I can be very descriptive.

I remember when the Watergate/White House tapes were made public, way back in the Stoned Age of peace, love, and dope.  No one could believe that the President of the United States had such a filthy mouth.  Richard Nixon cursed like a sailor – as the old expression goes.  Normal conversation would include “Wow!” and “Far out, man!”   These days, many feel the need to bump it up a couple of expletive notches to get the same effect.

What does all of this mean and why am I writing it?  Each and every day we make the decision on what comes out of our mouth and what we listen to.  Every sentence and utterance we offer is our choice alone.  Dwell on that and ruminate.  Chew the cud a bit.  Is it bitter or sweet?  Rediscover adjectives and adverbs and you will discover a great wide open world of words you now have available.



Anonymous said...

I thought your bleeping column was the bleeping, bleepidy-bleep bomb! LH

Anonymous said...

Great article in The Baytown Sun this morning. I couldn't agree more. DDC

Anonymous said...

Good subject. Sometimes we can walk away or admonish a person for their language. Additionally, I find it unnecessary to interject bleeping words, as well as sex scenes, into our lives via television and movies.

Anonymous said...

I've always mentored the younger children and young men I encounter with this: That the words we use are not a right/wrong issue, but a practice in building our vocabulary. An established vocabulary is an established mind for critical thinking and the creative process. That said, I have a vocabulary, can use it, and still cuss like a sailor about things that frustrate me. Most of these things are social and political, so I understand and watch the rants of the Daily Show. If I couldn't sit around and cuss about the absurdity of some the policies and lack of policies our government and culture intact or fail to, I believe I would hemorrhage. Good read BB. IKE

Anonymous said...

Great Article. My work place is a totally the opposite. Not one curse word from the laborer to the CEO on any given day. Matter of fact in most safety meetings we use your theme that comes though all Churches every year, the watch what comes out of your mouth, and the conductor ask our God to watch over us during the day. So my family away from home is pleasant. Good Luck as you exit the 5 minutes of foul. You won't miss that. You'll miss the reason to rise. Take Care

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