1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

Psychological discussion: Profanity

By link590o · 15 replies
Nov 29, 2007
  1. Profanity is certainly a heated topic around here. However, I must object and pose a psychological reason for why I personally do not believe in profanity of any kind.

    It starts off with what language is in general. Language is plainly and simply word association. If I say chainsaw, you immediately think of the piece of machinery with an engine that rotates a chain with blades attached, and is commonly used to chop down trees or hack off tree limbs. Or if I say car, you think of our modern equipment with wheels that gets us from point A to B.

    Since association is language, then it is easy to say that curse words can easily be made into normal meaningless words. It is simply a matter of using the word in another context. If I were to use such a word in ordinary speech, and associate it with a positive or neutral image, then it would lose its negative meaning.

    This works the same way as if you were to say the same word in your head over and over. Eventually, you forget what it is that you're supposed to think of. Or you wonder why it means what it does. Using profanity could easily work the same way.

    It's in that sense that you could argue that profanity should be ENCOURAGED, if anything. The words will lose their negative connotations, lose their appeal, and eventually people won't care, or won't even use them anymore because they've grown so insipid and unexciting.

    If nothing else, I would at least like to ask you to think of a "profane" word, and ask yourself why it means that, and why it should mean that. Or rather, why it shouldn't.

    It's understandable to ask that a post be gentlemanly and proper. I do NOT dispute this one bit. What I object to is the stance on profanity. When you're in a group in a specific situation, then the language used changes to best fit the situation. If people talk a certain way around certain people, they think that their speech pattern is good enough for any situation similar to it, and feel they shouldn't go out of their way to make a false impression.

    Therefore, my stance is a carefully considered one. It's based around a level of respect. I have differing levels of respect for different people. If they're the same age I am, then I'm likely going to use normal language. If they're a complete stranger that I have never seen or heard from before, I'll clean up my act. Or if they're someone of high status and have earned my respect, I'll certainly use respectful language. Or anyone that earns my respect in general. I'll express myself the same way they do out of respect.

    You could argue that cleaning my language around certain people means I'm not staying true to myself, and that I'm conforming. However, since I base my language around my levels of respect, I'm staying 100% true. My speech is merely a reflection of my attitude and piety.

    I hearby proclaim that I am in strong accordance with the belief that there is no such thing as bad language, since it is nothing but a bunch of letters associated with an image the wrong way. I also believe that the attempted restraint of the use of such words is only another problem rather than a solution. It's like trying to mix oil and water. It's just not going to work. People will simply wait until they're out of ear-shot, or away from the computer, and go about using those words despite your best efforts. If we were to instead dissolve the oil, then we'd be all set.

    I ask you all as friends and fellow peers to look further into the idea of profanity. You don't have to agree with me. But I think it would be cool if we all banded together to turn such negativity into meaningless speech.
  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Where are those heated discussions about profanity? I seem to have missed them. Or do you have high expectations for this thread? :p

    As for censoring the forums.. The point is not to make those swearing people better - we couldn't care less if they swear "out of ear-shot" or not. The point is to improve the reading experince of all the other people.

    Sure, you can say that words are just meaningless combinations of letters, but not everyone else thinks that way. Maybe you should go walk up to a black person and explain them that the N word is just some random sounds. (Assuming that you are not black yourself). See how far you get..
  3. link590o

    link590o Topic Starter

    Ok, for one thing, I already said in my post that you didn't have to agree with me. And it's a heated discussion because everywhere I go I see people using profane language and getting yelled at for it. Whether you see it or not is irrelevant.

    Secondly, I already said that based off of my respect levels, I would use language appropriate for a given situation. Walking up to somebody and just starting to do that is stupid and pointless. And no, I'm not black. Maybe you ought to read through my post again and comprehend it this time.

    Thirdly, I said in the title this was a psychological discussion. My aim was to show that I don't understand why profane words should be profane, and to show that you probably don't understand why either.

    I don't need you coming in here and busting my chops as if you expected to...win or something. This was for fun. Lighten up, would ya?
  4. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    On a forum such as TS i completely agree with Nodsu.

    Posts consisting of " my f'ing graphics card wont f'ing work" would be common place and nowhere near useful enough to diagnose from.

    Forcing people to not use profanity encourages people to use acceptable words that are usually more descriptive and much more useful.

    To say something wont work rather than say it's f'ed is far more descriptive and is much more likely to lead to a resolution to the problem.

    Please don't bite my head off at all, this is also a considered opinion.
  5. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    I see that you completely missed my point..

    You cannot take the "profane" class of words out of context. It is not some well-defined set of letter combinations agreed upon. It is a part of a person's cultural field and there is no way to somehow dismiss some of it as "random" or "arbitrary" or "meaningless". Some profanities and insults have very deep meanings instead of simply being nouns denoting a certain object.

    People are offended by different things and profanity is just a part of it. And you cannot somehow exclude that part, because it is all blurry. Example: "b.i.t.c.h." is simply a term for a female dog or a female or an insult depending on the context and the people involved. And you can't simply proclaim to change that context for everyone. Everyone's social setting includes thousands and thousands of years or culture that you can't just change over.

    Profanity in a public space like internet has another dimension. You are not approaching a single person here. Even if you are having a thread with only one other person, your exchange is potentially read by millions. And when you are addressing many people, as you said yourself, usually you take the cautious approach and you try to look civilised and try not to offend anyone. (Like it or not, especially in more official circles, profanity is associated with stupidity and low class.)
  6. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    Got ya now. Another example is the word that starts with f and ends with y.
    In America it is not such a rude word but here in the UK it is considered very rude as it is used as a word for female genitalia.

    But, I do think i have a valid point tho.
  7. link590o

    link590o Topic Starter

    you're right. i would take a cautious approach. again, i said i have no problem with not using profanity on a forum. that's not what my problem is. my problem is the stance people take on profanity.

    i know people are offended by stuff like that. but i feel like they shouldn't be, and i've already made a detailed statement on that in my original post. you're wrong that you can't change the context for everyone. enough people have to just look at it and ask questions.

    other cultures and official circles could take note too. as could anyone. everyone ought to take a step back and look at it and ask why. nobody questions why profanity is profane. they just know that it is and because of the context it was first used in. what the words are doesn't matter. it can be any string of letters or a gesture. they still have an association with something.

    the middle finger for example. many find that to be offensive. why? because of how it was associated in the past. hardly anyone knows the history so i'll fill you in.

    back in the middle ages, the british and the french were at war, as usual. and the french were threatening to cut off the trigger finger of any captured crossbowman of the english army. so as the brits rode into battle, they proudly displayed their middle (trigger) finger as a kind of an "up yours" to the french. now EVERYONE uses it for that meaning. but it only means that because someone associated it that way first. if they had given the finger as a salute, or for saying hello or something, it would not be offensive.

    the same goes for any culture with any profane language or gesture. if used in a different way by enough people, its meaning will change. you can't just say "no you can't change it" because that's a futile attitude and ignorance.

    if i went and got 50,000 people right now and got them to start using "b.i.t.c.h." as a term of endearment, then it would start to become a widespread phenomenon, and people would start to change the way they think and talk. it's not a matter of "you can't do it". it's a matter of "you can't do it very easily". and that goes for pretty much any major plan to change society and make an impact.
  8. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    I have to say. This thread is really in the wrong place. It should be in The Meeting Spot.
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    I've usually taken the view that individuals who insist upon using profanity have limited vocabularies and lack the imagination to find adjectives and adverbs to express themselves adequately.

    This is closely tied (imo) to script writers for a stage play and/or movies;
    lack of vocabulary places real limitations upon personal expression.
    -- thus --
    Just consider the source :)
  10. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 872   +12

    I gotta say this thread is a bunch of nonsense. Link who are you to tell me how or what I should feel. If somehow curse words/profanity were to lose their negative meaning then new words would be invented to offend/shock other people. Chork you and your chorking mother! Don't feel bad or even wonder about the meaning of chork or chorking. It's just a meaningless word I created a while back, and it has no negative connotations. You chorking understanding me?
  11. link590o

    link590o Topic Starter

    it's nice to chorking hear from you cinders.
    take it easy. i said, this is a DISCUSSION. and that means it's for FUN. i even wrote in my first post you don't have to agree with me. i never said you should feel in any way shape or form other than how you would normally feel.

    even if people DID create new words, then we could just make those lose their appeal too. whoop di doo. you created a word. i'll make it boring until you run out of ideas.

    your post is nonsense.

    and jobeard, people can have a vast vocabulary and choose not to use it. so i'd say that generalization is a bit biased in that regard.
  12. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 872   +12

    You did indeed tell me how to feel, so chork you. :)

    Yes many people do have a vast vocabulary and use their linguistic skills to intimidate, harass, embarrass, shame, humble, beat, uplift, praise, embolden, empower, strengthen themselves and others. When I hear a person using profanity in public I generally assume that person is an *****. Many younger people today act and speak as if they are the focus of an MTV reality show, and that bugs me. I’ve been eating in a restaurant with my family and had a loud table of rough gents sit down next to me. Their conversation was loaded with profanities and loud enough to quiet the entire room with a single expletive. By the time the third f-bomb landed I was ready to fight, and I seemed to be the only one who had the stones to say anything about it. I raised my voice and said “HEY no more cursing.” The entire table next to me then stood up and kicked my ***. I’m just kidding. The entire table looked up at me with a bit of shock in their faces and began to apologize. The situation calmed down and we had a nice dinner. Profanity isn’t something I like, but it does and always will have a place in society.
  13. link590o

    link590o Topic Starter

    ahhh...nit picking....

    i guess that's what i get for expressing an opinion....whatever.
  14. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    Hum; though we were expressing how WE feel, not suggesting anything on how you feel.

    Chorking: at least it's imaginative :)

    agreed :) ;)
  15. link590o

    link590o Topic Starter

    someone close this thread...i'm done with this. this is the last time i ever post anything like this...

    what a let-down...
  16. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Heh.. When you ask for a discussion, be prepared to be misunderstood and disagreed with. Anyway, wish granted.
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add New Comment

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...