Professor Smith wrote in an earlier blog about the utilization of “I swan” in order to avoid using a stronger oath. His blog left me thinking what phrases I use in order to avoid committing a social error. The only thing that I could come up with is the somewhat trite “holy cow!” Perhaps it is redeemed by the fact that it possibly stems from Hinduism, but it still produces snickers from my peers when I inadvertently say it in a moment of surprise. I am again surprised by their laughter. I always thought of it as a common expression. But it seems that as we grow older the swear words become more common and the polite cover-ups less so. Curse words don’t seem to be nearly as shocking as a simple “holy cow” or “oh my gosh!” in everyday language.
And yet, when we see the curse word written on a page, we are shocked by it. Why? Why is the transformation from spoken word to written such a jump? I admit that I’m guilty of it. I’m offended by it in a way that I would never be if someone said it in casual conversation. Perhaps it is because the spoken swear word is fleeting and transient and the written word is permanent, there for the entire world to see.
So what are your thoughts? Are you like me and feel that there is a difference between written swear words and spoken ones? Or do you think that there’s no difference at all?