April 25, 2019
We all hear the F word on a daily basis, regardless of where you are, in school, at a football match, at a pub… or in the hospital. The word simply washes up past us. The Oxford Dictionary describes it as ‘an intensifier’. But from what we know, it’s definitely one of the most popular words in the English language.
In Christianity, there was a special case about ‘bad language’ since it was probably, according to them a disdain for blasphemy – where increased swearing indicates the disintegration of Western civilization. Today, this case is a little bit easier and we accept swearing better since today, there are more important things to be upset about.
Still, people do kinda cringe when they hear kids swearing or using the f word, and not really do they know what they mean.
When we track the f word back through the ages, you may notice that it has two distinct roots of meaning, one is, of course, sexual, and the other which is more troubling. This one refers to violence. Usually connected to the words like ‘hot or ‘strike’, where the etymology tracks back to the Latin roots Pungus – and this same word refers to punching, fighting, and fist.
So, the f word symbolizes sex and violence – all wrapped up together. People should not be upset about the f word in general because it marks a sort of moral decline but because it is casual misogyny, putting the beauty and intimacy of a sexual act and corrupts it. Definitely pointing out the ugliness of violence. Sex and violence are never things which should be twinned together.
What does it mean that a word with these meanings – and deep down, I think we have to concede that they ring true – is right there at the heart of our culture? Heard every day, billions of times, all around the world, far more often than words of worship or love. Should we really just be waving it past without critique? I don’t think so. Once you know what the f-word really means, you can’t simply give it a free pass on the grounds of avoiding irrelevance. It’s not just a holiness issue – although I think that’s part of it – but a justice issue too. My hunch is that if more people knew the ugly, violent roots behind the f-word, they might just stop using it so much (and so maybe we should tell them). If the swearing doesn’t bother you, maybe it’s time that it did.
Using the f word only emphasizes the lack of linguistic imagination and we give it too much credit.
Here is a cute pup for the very end 🙂