Cleaning up your foul mouth – A Gentlemen’s Guide

Curse words have been around for hundreds of years and they show no sign of disappearing any time soon. George Carlin (in)famously gave the “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” in 1972 and as a result was arrested for violating obscenity laws. Ironically several of these words are now common place on broadcast television, to say nothing of the shows on cable where anything and everything goes.

In science fiction television shows, alternative curse words are common place. Red Dwarf used the word ‘Smeg’ which also happens to be the name of a swanky kitchen appliance company, the Battlestar Galactica reboot used ‘Frak’ which although spelled differently is the process of pumping in water to get oil and gas out of the ground, and Joss Whedon’s Firefly came up with several words including ‘Rutting’, “Gorram” and a whole host of hilarious curses spoken in Chinese. My personal favourite being, “Holy mother of God and all her wacky nephews”.

My point is that swearing isn’t anything new, and everyone probably does it. Some might deny it but every now and then, circumstances arise in which a curse word is not only appropriate but necessary. A stubbed toe, a flat tire, finding $10 in a jeans pocket, there are hundreds of circumstances that can create the ‘right’ time to swear.

That said, just as there are times when a good curse is needed, there are many times when a slip of the tongue is an insanely bad thing. Meeting your future parents-in-law, standing at the alter getting married, when the judge asks if you would like to make a statement before sentencing.

It is impossible to avoid foul language. If you believe that your son or daughter does not hear, and possibly use, bad language at school, it might be a case of wishful thinking rather than the truth. A lot of the time, the use of the words in school will reflect on men and women after they leave education. Some find it difficult to complete a single sentence without dropping the ‘f’ bomb, probably something that they started doing in school. It would be wrong to assume that this is a male only issue as school girls can often out swear their male school mates. It is doubtful that any process or treatment can prevent the odd curse word from leaving the lips.

So if prevention is out of the question, moderation may be the solution for a gentleman looking to impress.

Think about an expletive before you say it and try to come up with a cleaner or maybe softer way of expressing yourself. It should be noted that changing the ‘f’ bomb to ‘fudge’ might be polite but is hardly the done thing. It is more accepted to be foul mouthed if in the company of only males but even then reserve some of the more ‘explosive’ words for those moments when nothing else fits the bill. If on a date, the other person uses curse words, you can relax slightly but never ever go overboard with their use or which ones to use. While a gentleman should always act and sound like one, the sparring use of such words can actually emphasize your gentleman status by lending weight and gravitas to the rarely spoken words.

As with most behaviour, it is all about appropriateness and use when it comes to being a gutter mouth. You can be a gentleman and use offensive language, but only in moderation and at the most appropriate of times.

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