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Profanity
Posted: 10 July 2007 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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mckenzievmd - 09 July 2007 10:40 PM

. . . Anyway, I avoid technical medical jargon here because it would obfuscate. . .

Yeah, but you use ‘obfuscate’, ‘gratuitously’, ‘cogent’, ‘inalienable’, ‘expletives’, and that’s just in this post.  LOL  I figure if I don’t know the meaning of a word I can look it up and improve my vocabulary.  So, don’t limit yourself from medical jargon, Brennen. 

And thanks for the comment.  That phrase came about as a response to a very prissy, judgemental lady who criticized some earhy language in a great books group I was in many years ago.

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Posted: 10 July 2007 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!  red face I recall an English teacher in junior high once telling me to eschew obfuscation, but there are just so many cool words lying around unused that I can’t help myself!

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Posted: 10 July 2007 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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My personal favourite is Floccinauccinihilipilification (second longest word in the dictionary over here) I think it might even be the longest in the OED since they don’t seem to include pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicomechaniconiosis whereas the Collins complete always has done if my memory serves me correctly.

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Posted: 10 July 2007 10:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Can’t Oxford Press find wider paper?

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Posted: 11 July 2007 01:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Some I like are cognates.  I recall when I was a freshman at UCLA researching my English term paper on the Fourth Dimension I was in the library stacks and ran into a misfiled English grammar book for Russian speakers.  I glanced through it and saw that it showed quite a few English words that were cognates of Russian worlds. Many were bizarre.  For example, wouldn’t it be nice to have a Russian visiter comment that he enjoyed the panegyric he heard.  I have to admit that that word has been quite useful to me over the years, not as a synonym to ode or paean, but just as a snowjob.  LOL

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Posted: 11 July 2007 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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cgallaga - 10 July 2007 10:14 PM

Can’t Oxford Press find wider paper?

I think it’s just that since Maggie Thatcher closed all the coalmines, nobody actually catches it anymore.  I’d imagine, however it was just the technical compound word that broke the camel’s back (or at least, its lungs).  Given that they include coniosis, this specific causality is just medical esotera and is not in common usage.  They’re no more likely to include it than they are 2,3-dimethoxy-7-oxanorbornene and all its possible polyhalogenated analogues.

Whatever the hell that means.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 02:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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snake Another one bit the dust. Daybrown by the time I respond to this post you will have been cast into cyberspace and all I can say is “My the Farce go with you!”

Oh and for anyone who feels like they want to use vulgar language use it in Doganese which is the language of Dog and here is an example of the words of the worse kind of vulgar language: “Bow wow, bow wow, woof, woof, woof, bow wow, woof!”
And the same to you and your dogma and that goes for your dog pa as well!

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Posted: 03 August 2007 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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i have this conversation - about “profanity” - at home sometimes. outside of a few family members we seem to all agree that what makes something profane is not the word, but how its used. i could have my hand slammed in a door and cry out, “shit!” but I wouldnt consider that profane since it would be synonymous with many other words not considered profane. or I could call someone a “shithead.” but thats profane. its derogatory. its all about context.

ive heard the “what about the children?” argument and all I have to say to that is: kids are much smarter than we give them credit for. They understand context. They may not have articulated it, but they DO comprehend the fundamentals. I mean, thats how they learn no words. They hear someone say something in a certain way and later on they will repeat it. They dont hear the word “bread” and assoicate it with a dog. If children are hearing “profanity” in a context that is not profane they will most likely not use the word in a profane manner.

My two year old is a prime example. I always seem to lose my keys or forget something, and end up saying “oh shit!” alot. But I dont have the habit of calling people names. So one time my daughter was running down the hall and was trying to make a turn into her room. she almost hit the wall and I heard her go, “oh shit!” I laughed my ass off (see, there’s another example where a “curse” word was not used in a derogatory manner since it is synonymous with butt, rear, etc).

Anyway, my thoughts on profanity is that words dont have intrinsic meanings. There are no curse WORDS, just the act of using words to express something derogatory, which should be frowned upon (in certain cases) for obvious reasons.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Yes, I do think that what counts as profanity in a bad sense depends largely on context. The problem words are those used derogatorily. That said, different people have different pain thresholds for profanity. Some can tolerate virtually anything in polite conversation, and others cannot.

What we have to do on this forum is to try to pitch a tent in the unstable middle ground. We don’t want to be too prudish, but on the other hand we also want to be welcoming to a large group of people, some of whom may be more squeamish than others.

One may argue that we should fight for the free use of all words in the dictionary in the same way that we are open to all sorts of discussions about religion. I am not going to say there is nothing to this argument, however it does seem to me vastly over-inflated. Virtually any claim or argument that can be made by using profanity can be made just as strongly without it. And what we’re interested in here are claims and arguments, not simply the random usage of all possible anglo-saxon terminology.

If one can demonstrate that there is an important argument that needs profanity to be made, then that argument will get special treatment here. But it’s one thing for such an argument to come up spontaneously, and another for it to be manufactured in order to stick it to the people who don’t like profanity. Manufactured arguments are equally problematic, as they exist solely for derogation.

There are no perfect solutions here, though.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Doug is, as usual, quite correct. grin

I also think the issue of how children acquire profanity is an interesting one. As many of us will know, one of the hardest things to do well in a second language is to curse. There are subtleties of context and usage for profanity that don’t exits for more ordinary words like “bread.” Children, I think, often acquire the connotgation of such words before the denotation. Knowing only the barest bilological details about sex, and none of the larger issues around it, my daughter knows certain words that Dad says when he stubs his toe are not to be said in front of grandma, even though she has no idea what they mean. Children are amazing at learning words, but they’re even better at associating them with how adults feel about them. I try to teach my daughter that words such as these (and other, for that matter) draw a lot of their communicative value from context, and I discourage her use of profanity not by implying the word shtemselves have any power but by pointing out that their power derives from their associations, and she should avoid them until she is quite clear what they signify when and where and to whom. SO when she tries one out, instead of “That’s a BAD word!” I point out that some people might feel bad when that word is used and so she shouldn’t say it to anyone unless she knows how they feel about it. As such, it is not taboo (which would only increase the frequency of its use), but she has to think a little about what the word is for. And when she makes a mistake in word choice, I present it as a data point (“Sweetheart, remember Grandma thinks Jesus Christ is real and very important, so lets try not to say his name like that when she’s visiting.”)

Like most of language and childrearing, a facinating subject!

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Posted: 03 August 2007 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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dougsmith - 03 August 2007 10:32 AM

Virtually any claim or argument that can be made by using profanity can be made just as strongly without it.

I would agree with that only if we agree that the statement “by using profanity” is not about any particular word (because that would imply that words have instrinsic meanings) being used, but rather how ANY word is used to express something profane and derogatory.

Also, I think the need for “profanity” depends on the circumstance and whether the “profane” synonym carries with it the intensity of the emotion that is trying be put across. Wouldnt you sorta laugh at someone who yelled “gosh darn it” if they slammed their hand in the door; and wouldnt you be more alarmed with concern if they yelled, “holy shit!”? What I mean is, the weight of the word - regardless of what its synonymous with - is just as important as the context its used in.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Absolutely, truthaddict.

There is the additional quibble that we want “the right” to be profane, in the sense that we want the right to say things that some folks may find offensive, from time to time. But it’s a narrow line between that right and just simple nastiness and impoliteness. That’s why I say that we should (and, I think, do) have larger leeway for profanity that is used to some particular argumentative purpose, rather than just profanity for the sake of profanity.

As for slamming your hand in the door—agreed, for sure; but for the purposes of this forum, we aren’t slamming our hands in doors. We’re doing our best to keep level-headed, clear-thinking. And insofar as we get angry, we try to keep away from the nastier profanity.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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were on the same page, or at least the same chapter and im certain its the same book.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Its funny how people sling words around not knowing they are using the wrong word. You take the words “curse words.”
Actually a curse word is not profanity but a word or words that when said release a spell. Say some one places a spell upon anyone who opens a certain person’s tomb and when that person that opens the tomb says “oh crap” the curse is activated and bad luck then falls upon the victim of the curse. Or if some one who believes in God says “to hell with you” they are cursing you to hell even though they do not have any power or authority to do so they have placed a curse on you as the “curse word” is “hell” and they have cursed you by telling you they are sending you to hell. And there is no such of a thing as a “cuss word” because the word “cuss” has no meaning.
Profanity on the other hand is using any type of slang in anger at some one else in order to provoke anger in them and to make them feel bad. If I were angry at some one and I were to say “G-d damn you” I would be using profanity and a curse word at the same time because I would be casting a spell that God would damn you and using words that anger. Swear words are any words where you take an oath and have nothing to do with profanity or cursing, but are used incorrectly by people less educated in English phrases.
And many slang words come from corrupt words; “shit” is the corruption of “chittam” a berry used as a laxative. And another popular four letter word are the first letters of a sentence from the time of the middle ages. And vulgar words usually always have something to do with human waste or private parts and are used in or out of context. But all of these words are taboo in many societies not inasmuch as they are vulgar, but in high class systems and in proper use of language even the word “aint” is consisted by many as a vulgar word. Few words started over religion, but more from the mores of upper society which were offended by the improper use of language which made one think of the person using the words as “a low class lout.” In time it was forgotten why the words were still taboo out of tradition.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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yeah, I see what you mean. “memes” become kind of attached to our culture and sometimes we dont think about how theyve evolved in an Orwellian type sense. Youre correct, the original meaning of “curse word” was not necessarily about profanity, but it has certainly evolved into encompassing them. Shit, im still trying to think of something to replace sunrise and sunset. Weve known for how many centuries that the Sun doesnt revolve around us?

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