~ MY NAME IS Binks WebElf, and I used to be a promiscuous profanitizer. I know the gaggy taste of Ivory soap, various kinds of liquid dish detergent, and the difference between a spanking by a mother and a father. *
I kept swearing between me and my friends, mostly in junior & senior high school, and even into college. It was a phase, I suppose, of testing the limits of language, freedom, and naughtiness. Then one day in my late teens I caught myself swearing, and heard just what was being said.
Bleagh! What the– heck was all that? So I went on a bit of a swear-fast, and over time, reserved the best Anglo-Saxonisms for times where they might fit exactly the need or circumstances (though with accidental pain, I mostly sing, or do a little Yosemite Sam or ‘Furnace Words‘ a la the comedy movie ‘A Christmas Story’.
“That blasted, stupid furnace! Dadgummit! Damn skates! Oh for cripe’s sake, open up that damper, will ya? Who the hell turned it all the way down? Hawk head! Aw, blasted poop flirt rattle crap camel flirt. You blonker frattle feet sturckle frat! Of a womp sack butt ratter bottom fodder…. Smick melly whop walker! Drop dumb fratten house stickle fifer!”
I remember in high-school one smart-ass (who happened not to be me) who wrote on the board– before our very proper old-style male teacher arrived– ‘fukc’. I’m not sure if the smartass expected him to melt, or cry, or ask what it meant. The teacher came in, looked at the board, then us, and then calmly erased and fixed the mis-spelling. “If you insist on using such language, you should learn how to spell it correctly. Please open your texts to page 121.” He was one of my heroes after that.
Thing is, social media is also become a festering pit of sloppy English, bad & lazy thinking, and even worse language. Kids can hear almost any horrible thing on YouTube or their Game multiplayer channels.. it’s just charming to hear an eight year old voice encussinating harder than an old-tyme sailor over this or that game-problem or hard spot or frustration. Even worse to hear people in their twenties and older talking the same way.
Why The Bother?
Talking without swearing for punctuation is– for me– a sign of hope, of aspiring to be better than we are or or the culture around us, of not sinking to the lowest common denominator, or giving up trying to learn and express ideas, feelings, or frustrations without rampant Anglo-Saxonisms.
For Christians and Jews, needless profanity is a matter of spiritual and possibly eternal consequences: not just for the example set, but because the word belongs to, and originates in, God himself; more, say the Christians, the eternal Word Is God (second Person of the Trinity, in later definition), and became flesh, and dwelt amongst us. Speech is meant to be purposeful– to build up, to proclaim, to give grace, to encourage or rebuke or warn or praise or bless– above all, to speak the truth in love.
Thus, as Jesus– The Word, by whom all men are judged– himself says, by our words and deeds you and I will be judged, for every secret word, fruitless or careless or idle word, angry killing word, or truly lustful word; even unspoken words, and the thoughts of the heart.
What The Orcs Say
Catholic writer and language expert J.R.R. Tolkien actually wrote about orc-mindedness and profanity, and the bottom of one of the extensive appendices found at the back of The Return Of The King: It’s an interesting quote, given that day’s standards, versus the f***olanche of modern TV, movies, social media, computer gaming, books, and everything else.
“Orcs and Trolls spoke as they would, without love of words or things; and their language was actually more degraded and filthy than I have shown it I do not suppose that any will wish for a closer rendering, though models are easy to find.
Much the same sort of talk can still be heard among the orc-minded; dreary and repetitive with hatred and contempt, too long removed from good to retain even verbal vigour, save in the ears of those to whom only the squalid sounds strong.”
[ Lord Of The Rings, Appendix F ]
Ouch. He’s not speaking as a fussy Edwardian who’d rather have a mouth full of manure than say sh*t, given that during his time at university and in the British Army on the Western Front, he’d hear jsut about everything imaginable. As a writer and scholar of old languages, he’d come across profanity and blasphemy– but likely never taken lightly, as your word was bond and honour in the old cultures.
Interestingly, Tolkien says he ‘cleaned up’ the orc-talk. Thank heavens that Peter Jackson never read that, or we’d have al lthe orc characters talking like Samuel L. Jackson on a rip. Authenticity, you know.
Even more, for Tolkien orcishness was a serious matter; to be found on all ‘sides’, and the debased, destructive, and hateful mindset which went with it and expressed itself orcishly was a major problem in the fallen modern world.
- Profanity is ordinary cussing. Blasphemy involves holy things.