Writer's moments

My Language Is Deteriorating…

…seriously. I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I have a good vocabulary. My mom insisted that we have extensive vocabularies and use them appropriately. I’m a whiz at spelling and usually if someone asks me what a word means, I can come up with the correct definition without running to a dictionary. I’m a bodacious Scrabble and Boggle player. My grasp of language and it’s appropriate use is  part of why I’m a terrific copyeditor (I have clients who’ll testify, honest!).

So it surprises me to find that I’m using expletives more frequently as I get older. And I’m not talking about the occasional “crap” or “damn.” I’m talking the real words—the ones that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap when I was a kid. You know, the words from George Carlin’s infamous list. (Google it!)

I’ve never really been a language prude, but I’ve always been someone who disdained “bad words” as language uneducated people used. However, I’ve discovered that often the best word, the very best word I can use in some situations is a bad one. Sometimes people behave like  asshats and that’s the only suitable word to use to describe them, so I’ve used it—but always appropriately. I’ve developed serious menopausal short-term memory loss, so shit! pretty much takes care of the frustration of not remembering where I put my damn reading glasses. And sometimes, in the throes of a particularly gnarly hot flash or when my emotions are in a confused knot, I just want to scream FUCK! So I do and it makes me feel better.

As a writer,  I’m not proud of this, but as a woman, I’m kind of intrigued with the relief that one good loud FUCK can bring. You know, maybe my language isn’t really deteriorating at all, maybe it’s just getting more colorful—yeah, that’s it! And even though I’ve added profanity to my vocabulary, I’m still not going to apologize to my son for slapping him when, at age fifteen, he used a word that I’d repeatedly asked him not to use in my presence. Sorry, I love you, but you fuckin’ deserved it, kid.


  • Carole

    Hey Nan,

    I did read recently that cursing helps us relieve stress. Instead of doing bodily harm to the driver who almost sideswiped you may let a few expletives fly and feel better. I let few fly and will not let dangerous driver over when the lane narrows due to traffic:)

  • londonmabel

    No kidding, and motherf***er is my favorite, from my Prince days. I’m an unpublished writer, and I always wonder about where I’m going to draw the line when it comes to my books. My current one is clean, but the next one… not sure, because the characters are more of the swearing kind. Mind you, a little goes a long way, and I write comedy, which means one can get inventive. For example, I don’t think there’s any swearing in Bill and Ted cause it’s all invented!

  • Sandy James

    Loved the f***ing post. Seriously, my language gets worse all the time!! You’d think as a teacher, I’d be more careful. Nope. Only censor myself at school. Too f***ing hard at home. lol