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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Offensive Words

Some words are offensive and not used.

Some are used by certain groups, but not by others.

The N-word comes to mind as a word that has a defined ecosystem where it may flourish, and a vast region beyond the pale where it may not.

"Retarded" is another example.
Very recently I was on my way somewhere, I was late, and I lightly explained that "I was retarded." As soon as I said this, I knew it was an error, for I meant that I was retarded in time; that is, I was held back by something and lost time and was - as the man in the Bay of Biscay said when asked why he missed dinner - I was en retard. I was late.
Of course, in my neck of the woods, many young people had most recently been in the habit of using "retarded" as a synonym for "silly", "goofy", "loopy", and what have you. So by saying I was retarded, I could have seemingly been stating the obvious and asking for forgiveness and understanding due to my goofiness... sort of an obeisance one makes to the Alphas in charge, a groveling in the dirt.
I think the appointment was a haircut, and the person I talked to was my hair-whisperer (emphasis on whisp),  and as she was going to have sharp metal objects in the proximity of my carotid artery soon, it seemed best to grovel.

The N-Word is the most odd. If a family has people of various races within the close family, you have the very unusual spectacle of the linguistic divide in a very small community. Some members of the family use it, but in well-defined situations with people of well-defined relationship, and some other members do not at all.

I think it helps such situations to be stimulant-free. It is easy to offend when non compos mentis.

What we actually need is a perjorative word that cuts to the quick and can be used by everybody.

Or not... Perhaps the power of such words resides in the labyrinth of proper usage within a maze of different social and familial relationships.
Perhaps a good part of the perjorative power of offensive words comes from their difficult context and placement - the fact that if one uses such a word improperly, one could get punched in the nose.

Interesting. Personally, if I feel the need, I sing a bowdlerized version of DMX Ruff Ryders Anthem, "One, two, three, four, five...what?!"  wherein the "one" and "two" beats take the place of the offensive words.


gad! The latest Firefox update has made this browser almost impossible to use!
I am in a hurry to get this up before everything falls apart.

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