Posted by: terrapraeta | December 7, 2007

Bad Words!


Bad Words!
Bad Words!
Bad Words!
Bad Words!

Use them when you’re happy
Use them when you’re sad
Use them when you’re angry
Use them on your dad!

Bad Words!
Bad Words!
Bad Words!
Bad Words!

They come in all shapes
They come in all sizes
From the tough, to the meek
They’re not words you wanna speak

Bad Words!
Bad Words!
Bad Words!
Bad Words!

They come in all shapes
They come in all sizes
From the rich, to the poor
They’re not words you wanna use anymore

Circle Jerks Bad Words

I once had a conversation with my child about swearing. I explained that there are certain words that one should not use because it will upset other people. Never one to meekly take direction, he asked why. In all honesty, I had to tell him, I don’t know. That certain words have been deemed ‘bad’ over time, and so it is best to understand that some people will be upset if you use them.

I don’t want to talk about those kind of bad words.

Over the last few years I have been exploring a variety of ideas about people, culture, and society. After many debates, discussions and explorations, it has become clear that there are certain words in the English language that carry implications I don’t like, but that are nonetheless useful in discussion. Often because they are not easily replaced with other, more precise words. Someday, perhaps we will design (or evolve!) a new language that is better equipped to express a new way of thinking about the world. But for now we are stuck with what we’ve got.

So, in the course of writing, I will often be placing common words between single quotation marks to signify that they are ‘bad words’. Just to get things started, I’ll make a short list:

Should. No matter how the word ‘should’ gets used, it seems to carry with it a lot of connotations with which I do not agree. Frequently it implies either correctness or morality where I am trying to express practical expedience or situational ethics. I have yet to find another word (or words) that effectively conveys my intent, without resorting to long winded descriptions.

Nature/Natural Everything in the universe is natural. Often, invoking the word implies a dicotomy between humans and nature that simply does not exist. We are animals and as much a part of the natural order as lions and iguanas and spider mites. However, there are many things that we do in our culture that stand in opposition to who and what we are as a species. So when I speak of ‘natural’ I am referring to those things that are compatible with our biological nature, while ‘unnatural’ would be those things that are incompatible with our biological nature, or incompatible with the good health of the world as a whole.

Right/Wrong. I don’t believe in absolute morality. Yet the terms ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ imply always. However, ‘right’ can be used to describe ‘best for me right now’ and similar sentiments. Further, I don’t believe in any black/white dichotomies. They are always false. In the real world, I think that every dichotomy is better described as a scale, and I will be attempting to always discuss the scale rather than the extremes.

As other ‘bad words’ occur to me, I will be updating this list, complete with explanations and discussion.

(Originally Published August 18, 2006)

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Responses

  1. Since you liked to this. If you’ve ever read the Evasive English dictionary you’ve seen that “should” implies that “it isn’t going to happen”. So. I should mow the lawn. Means: I should mow the lawn, but I’m not going to.

    On a slightly more serious note. I think that should always implies a moral directive. It is useful when hearing the word should to mentally ask “says who?”. It seems to me that a simple statement of desire is much more accurate. Instead of “I/You/E/They should…” Use: “I would like it if I/You/E/They did…”

    JimFive

  2. Hey —

    hmmm.. in everyday language I use ‘should’ ofttimes when I don’t know if I am going to do something, but I’ve never thought of it as something that I flat out won’t do…. interesting.

    Moral directive… yes, exactly. “Says who” is ALWAYS a good reaction 🙂

    tp

  3. Hey, is there really an Evasive English Dictionary? I googled it but no luck.

  4. I had the name slightly off. It is “The Evasion-English Dictionary” by Maggie Balistreri.


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