Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Don't be a donkey!

A friend mentioned years ago that cursing in Europe tends to be related to religion and fate in the afterlife while cussing in America tends to focus on bodily functions such as baby-making and elimination.  There are probably some good scholarly works on the development and paths taken when we are stirred to anger and either want to ask Satan to take someone to the underworld forever or call attention to the person’s dark, smelly and animal nature.

I tend to feel that when someone damns me that all that is happening is airwaves being released by the person’s larynx.  In Tom Robbins’s comic novel “Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates”, an Amazonian shaman places a death curse on an explorer that will kill him if his feet touch the ground.  The curse is taken seriously and the explorer spends a long time in a wheelchair.

From the scripts of most movies about sexually ripe young people, I gather that, like me, they have learned to express strong displeasure using words emphasizing the body and its processes.  I like to think of ‘cursing’ as the act of asking for a nasty experience for someone and ‘cussing’ as throwing angry words at them.  I am not in the habit of asking for someone who cuts me off rudely and dangerously in traffic to spend eternity in fiery torture.  Like other youngsters, I was intrigued by learning the bad words that I shouldn’t say but currently, they get used too much to have much weight. 

It is probably better brain exercise to actually construct an insult or slur about my target than to rely on pre-packaged phrases.  Maybe something modern and relevant such as “May your mutual funds fail” or “I pray your wine bottle burst” or “May your knees deteriorate”.

The part of our bodies that usually ranks highest for disagreeableness has been in the news lately.  For polite usage, we might say “butt” or “bottom” but for name-calling, adults use the A** word.  See Scott Adam’s on the suicidal terrorist use of rectal explosives and Wired.com on the battle between the Church of Scientology and some of its critics.

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby