Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Smart as $%#$

The other night Piper asked me to download a song for her for her mp3 player after hearing it on the radio.  I told her I wasn't sure that was such a good idea because it has a lot of bad words in it when it's unedited.  (Yes, I know, I could get the edited version but quite honestly, there are a LOT of bleeped out words in Cher Lloyd's 'Want U Back' and I just don't think it's a great song for Piper to be listening to over and over even without the bad words.)

Anyway, Caroline asked, "Well, what words are in it that are bad?"

Knowing that she's 8 and clearly knows many of the bad words (and not to say them), I didn't have to completely sugar coat it - I just said, "The 'S-word'" and she knew what I meant.  I thought that was the end of it and she piped up,

"What I don't understand is that the 'S-word' is another word for poop yet it's mostly okay to say "poop."  Why is the 'S-word' a bad word but poop is not when they mean the same thing?"

I was very impressed by her critical thought on that one.  In fact, I'm sure there are plenty of adults that haven't really thought about that.  Quite honestly, I get a little perturbed about what words we deem as "bad" and which words are okay.  Not that I want a foul mouthed kid, but I get her point.  What makes some words taboo is the value that WE put on them.  There's no alarm going off in the universe when we utter one of those words and while it might give someone else a impression about you if you use it in particular situations (e.g. job interviews, formal situations, speeches, etc), there's really nothing truly damning about saying those words.

I told Caroline I agreed with her but that we'll continue not to say them since we don't want to come across as a foul mouthed family.  I don't utter the words in front of my kids mostly because I want to show them that they can verbally express themselves without resorting to expletives.  I once read that an expletive is what you use when you are at a loss for a better word so maybe increasing your vocabulary is a good way to go for multiple reasons.

"Bad" words will probably exist in our culture in our lifetimes so it's matter of understanding how they are used and when it's appropriate (if at all) to use them.  However, I'd like to see them challenged because our language only has power when we give it the power.  It's funny to think that some words we use in our daily vernacular now weren't such great words in past generations.  For example you NEVER said a woman was pregnant.  OMG.  And using the correct words for genitalia was also taboo (although it still is with a lot of people, but that's slowly changing).  Or remember in the 80's when it was a big deal when the word "ass" or "bitch" was said on TV?  I wonder what words our grandchildren will say that we don't utter in polite company now?

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