Friday, August 13, 2010

The Five Words You Can't Write Out

On the topic of Internet etiquette, one guideline I try to follow is to avoid writing out whole swear words because many of my friends have workplace filters that would end up blocking my posts and emails. For a while I tried writing in code, such as "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge that dude!" and "CU Next Tuesday" but that detracts from the flow of my words. At the same time, it gets me wondering--how do certain words become taboo?

1) The "C-bomb". This reference to female anatomy always puzzled me, since heterosexual men seem to enjoy it, so why use a slang word for it as an insult? I suspect it has something to do with the blunt coarseness of the word itself--it sort of sounds like the noise you'd hear if your car rammed into a bridge abutment.

2) The "M-F bomb". Why is this somehow an insult? It implies that the target has F-ed someone's M. Whose M? Why is F-ing that M an insult to the target?

3) The "F-bomb". This one is all about context. There's a world of difference between "Ah, F, I just stepped on my priceless Faberge egg" and "F you, dude!" I find the use of the word directed at a person to have more punch and therefore be less appropriate for everyday use.

4) The "S-bomb". When not used literally, this really isn't a bad word and should be brought into regular use!

5) The "B-bomb" (b-tch, not b-stard. B-stard isn't really an insult since Hollywood celebrities taught us that marriage is not necessary before having kids). The word "b-tch" is interesting, because when used to describe a woman, it's generally because that woman is mean or abrasive, but by no means weak or docile. On the other hand, when a guy is called a "b-tch" it usually means he's weak and dominated. I don't really have anything to point out about that though.

So how did these words get offensive over time? Were they once acceptable, and then corrupted? Are terms only troublesome when we treat them like taboos?


  1. My favorite swear word is "Frak", invented for Battlestar Galactica. All the power of "fuck", but since it's not really a curse word (even though it is: "FRAK YOU!" "MOTHERFRAKER!"), other network/cable TV-shows started picking up on it and using it, vis-a-vie Veronica Mars, "Frak?"

  2. MSnay--just wait until that starts getting banned in schools!