View from Across the Pond: Bad language

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I’m a cusser. Yes, I do cuss and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It’s part of being Irish; we do things differently across the pond. In Ireland, nobody takes too much notice of it, and so, it’s not really considered to be cussing if no one is getting hot and bothered about it.

I cuss at home, though not all the time. It’s not like I’m some sort of feral docker. She Who Must Be Obeyed does not like me doing it at home, particularly if it’s used in anger. If it’s used in jest, or to illustrate a point, or to emphasize, then she tends to be a bit more lenient with me. That being said, she knows it’s a waste of time trying to “correct” me; though God knows it’s not for the lack of trying. I’m an incorrigible and unrepentant cusser, but this does not make me a “bad man.”

My use of, what you call, “bad language” (it’s not “bad” to me at all) does not indicate any moral depravity on my part. It does not point to some sort of character flaw, spiritual weakness, or personality disorder. It just means I speak differently to you; that’s all. It’s as simple as that.

BrianONuanainNow, that being said, naturally I respect the desires of others not to hear this word and I have no problem whatsoever in eschewing it, when in public. I am not some oafish lout who is indifferent to the needs and desires of others when in the public domain. I wouldn’t dream of cussing in public here as I know it can cause grave offense. One must learn to respect the social and cultural norms of the environment you live in, so I assiduously avoid it here – unless of course, you use it first.

You see, here’s the thing, especially with men. Sometimes, after they get to know each other a bit, some men will ease a wee cheeky cuss into the conversation. At first, often by way of illustration – they’ll quote what some other guy said, so it’s not like they using it themselves directly – they’re just quoting what some other guy said. And then they watch for the reaction. Some listeners won’t bat an eyelid at hearing the word – that’d be me – while others flinch ever so slightly. So now, you’ve staked out the linguistic contours. Now you know where the boundaries are, and how far you can go. You’ve used the word to grease the wheels of conviviality, to render the conversation less formal, more matey, more intimate in a sense. It’s what we call at home, laddishness; what you might call, “bromance.” Is it just men who do this?

 

Brian O’ Nuanain runs “Across The Pond And Beyond”, a company that organizes international vacations. You can reach him at acrossthepondandbeyond.com