I Swear — Word(s) of Wisdom

It’s April Fool’s Day, and CBC radio’s morning program raised the ire of many listeners with a (false) story about a petition to prohibit cursing in a local park. Scores of readers tweeted their outrage before the joke was revealed, citing their belief in free speech in public places.

I, too, strongly believe in free speech, but the current fashion for casual cursing disturbs me. I am no saint – I spent a few years working for the Navy and did, indeed, learn to curse like a sailor – but I maintain that conversation should be more than a string of F#*! and S*#!  strung together.

Call me a prude, but there’s nothing enjoyable about walking to the subway behind someone telling a friend how much the bleeping bleep bleeped him off. It just sounds uncouth and disgusting.

Curses lose their power if they are overused, so it’s time to substitute other exclamatory words and phrases for modern profanity. Let’s deprogram ourselves, broaden our vocabularies and use some creativity in heated moments.

Why not turn to Shakespeare for a lesson or two? Here are a few of his choice insults that will not only sound much classier than your average expletive, but will impress your friends and neighbours with their uniqueness:

  • “Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens.” (As You Like It)
  • “Scurvy, old, filthy, scurry lord.” (All’s Well That Ends Well)
  • “Out, you mad headed ape.” (Henry IV, Part I)
  • “Base dunghill villain.”(Henry IV, Part II)
  • “How foul and loathsome is thine image.” (The Taming of the Shrew)
  • “Poisonous bunch backed toad.” (Richard III)

For a larger selection, visit http://www.insults.net/html/shakespeare/

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4 Comments

Filed under Language

4 responses to “I Swear — Word(s) of Wisdom

  1. Suelan Toye

    I shall have to use these gems the next time someone elbows me on the subway – thanks Elaine!

  2. I love this topic! I always wonder about a person’s lack of verbal creativity when I hear too much swearing…

  3. L

    My personal favourites are “You draggle-tailed guttersnipe” from My Fair Lady and “You crushed sofa” from Dr. Zhivago.

  4. Chris

    I actually love curses and I’m fascinated by what words we choose to make unacceptable – my sense is that in North America, we taboo-ize certain words about bodily functions and to some extent, religion.

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