*$%&*@#(%&! Say What?

Profanity is the refuge of the ignorant.

It’s not that people who feel the need to constantly spout profanity are unintelligent; it’s that they display an extremely limited vocabulary.

Maybe I’m old fashioned. Maybe it is the taste of Ivory soap that lingers in my memory.

My mother didn’t tolerate bad language. (She even had a crusade against “ain’t.”) It wasn’t that she was immune to the need for explosive expressions upon occasion. “Sugar” was something she would yell out when needed. “Asinine creatures!” often flew out of her lips while driving.

In her mind, bad language was a poor reflection upon the speaker and did more harm than good. She was right. I had first-hand experience when I worked for a vice president of a major corporation.

I had only started a week before and this gentleman had arrive in a tornado of activity. He planted himself in his office with the door between our work spaces open and proceeded to get on the phone. Every other word out of his mouth was the f-bomb. I was shocked and uncomfortable having to listen to that kind of language. His volume level made it hard to avoid hearing.

The next day, on the advice of my husband, I shut the door when he started in. After he concluded his phone call. He came out and asked me why I had closed the door. I was fully expecting a colorful dressing down. I told him that I didn’t feel I needed to be exposed to that kind of language. From then on, he shut the door – but he didn’t clean up his language.

The problem was, his direct reports started using the same language in their dealings with others. Now, I never really knew who they were talking to, but I can’t help thinking that speaking that way to anyone was a poor way to communicate.

I’m no angel, and there are times when words come out of my mouth that would put many a teenager to shame. (Sorry, Mom!) It is usually when I’m alone driving in traffic with the windows rolled up.

In business writing, there is absolutely no situation in which profanity is appropriate. Fiction is another story, but profanity should be used with a purpose, not to just throw shocking words at people.

People point to Lenny Bruce and George Carlin who helped demystify curse words. They think people like these two comedians gave everyone permission to curse with abandon. People ignore that they used such words in their routines with a purpose.

By using profanity as a vocabulary crutch, people miss out on the satisfaction of dressing someone down with words they may not quite understand. Try calling someone an asinine creature sometime; they might not be sure if it’s an insult.


One thought on “*$%&*@#(%&! Say What?

  1. Don’t get me started on the cartoon The Smurfs. The writers just shoved the word smurf wherever they chose, as a noun, as a verb, as an adjective. This was not a show that my children were allowed to see often. It, like the boss with the freaking word choice issue, shows too little creativity.


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