I must confess: I have a potty mouth. I like profanity–I like the harshness of it, sometimes even the shock of it, if it's a particularly vile word. I even like the history of it; some profane words have been around since the beginnings of human language. How can that kind of staying power be wrong?
Now I read this:
I actually kind of agree with what they're trying to do here, although I'm wondering if, given the state of California's budget woes, this is the best use of the legislature's time. In fact, I am, from time to time, tempted to make an effort to quit cursing, though not for altruistic reasons. There is a part of me that knows using profanity is a cop out for not finding a better word–a more appropriate or imaginative word–to express myself. The writer in me wants to do better.
I'll give you an example. Last week, Mick and I went to visit a friend at his loft in downtown LA. We'd never seen the place, and I was surprised when we walked up to the door to find to find that the building was a pristine art deco–one of the few remaining examples in LA. My first thought was "Wow, this is fucking awesome!"
I immediately admonished myself. Surely I could find a better way to express how I felt about this beautiful building. "Wow, this is so cool!" Nope. Stephen King, in his book On Writing says people who use that phrase should have to stand in the corner. "Wow, it's so beautiful!" Better, perhaps, but certainly lacking personality. I was stuck with "fucking awesome."
Even now, when I've had ample time to reflect, I still don't have a better phrase. But I am certain the writer in me will find one eventually.
What do you think about profanity? Do you use it? Do you consider it a lower form of communication? Do you strive to improve your language by thinking of more appropriate (and more interesting) words? For my part, I will probably continue to curse, because let's face it, old habits die hard, but I will never give up the search for that perfect word.
* Thanks to my sister-in-law for this link