Mind what you say!

I have decided to write about language in the sense of “bad language”.  My definition of bad language includes swearing and rude words and using the name of God inappropriately.

Some recent real life and on-line incidents have made me look again at my attitude to this issue.

At school our French teacher explained that a certain phrase in French was not as strong as its literal translation into English.  Even at the time, I silently queried her logic.  It is true that the French seemed to accept the phrase as a normal part of their vocabulary.  This was a cultural difference.  Sad to say the literal translation into English raises few eyebrows nowadays!  It is even a text-speak abbreviation.

In my view it is still taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Anne of Green Gables is a classic children’s book.  In fact it is the first of a series.  Although it is many years since I read it, I have never forgotten the account of Anne using a swear word.  For her it meant that she lost her peace (with God).

I have sworn on occasion, but I do not do so habitually and always regret it afterwards.

Some of my friends and acquaintances on and offline habitually use words I was forbidden to use as a child, because of their derivations.  This leaves me in a quandary.  I can only assume that these people are unaware of the underlying meaning or they would not use these words.  A song, which was popular years ago, includes one such phrase.  It was explained to me by my Dad as meaning, “God, blind me”.  He forbade its use saying that God was likely to answer such a prayer. (I won’t go into the theology of that here!)

Another word which I find unacceptable is derived from “God’s Truth”.

Rather than tackle individuals about these issues, I have written this post.  There is no way I can recommend a piece of online writing which includes this sort of language (which may not even be classed as swearing), no matter how much I agree with everything else that is said.

A writing friend does not allow people to use the name of Jesus lightly.  She politely reminds strangers that they’ll have to meet Him one day.  I admire her courage.

The Bible teaches about the use of language.  Jesus talked about swearing oaths in Matthew 5:33-37.

James (thought to be a brother of Jesus) wrote about the tongue in his letter. James3:1-12

After writing this I found myself laughing at an anecdote which included a swear word.  Partly it was because the anecdote was good news about someone’s improved health, but the word in question was very expressive of the frustration and good humour of the person being quoted.

In some groups of people swearing may reduce stress, but in other situations it can be offensive and should be avoided.

In my opinion young people should be taught standards of speech as well as behaviour.  Those of us, who are professing the faith, should set an example in our daily lives, but be slow to condemn others, who may have different backgrounds.

If this post has provoked you to comment, please note that this is my space and I reserve the right to edit or delete comments as I think fit.



6 thoughts on “Mind what you say!

  1. Hi Sue,
    Thank you for this. You are right in saying that some people don’t understand the derivations of the words they are saying.
    Also, words which are ‘just another adjective’ for some people can have distressing associations for some of their listeners/readers. I have experience of this. Where I grew up in South Wales, the word ‘bl**dy’ was ‘just another adjective’ for many people. No offence was intended by it and I’m not aware of any offence being taken. I needed to ‘unlearn’ that word when I came to England and then became a mother, teacher and then a grandmother.
    Although I just about ‘unlearned’ this word, it still slips out occasionally and my grandson recently commented ‘Oh, Nannie just said a swear-word!’ when I muttered,’Oh I just knocked my bl**dy tea over!’ I apologised to my grandson, explained my background and he graciously said,’It’s not always a swear-word is it, Nannie? When I cut my leg, it was bl**dy.’
    And finally – personally, I can’t stomach the ‘f’ word under any circumstances.
    Thank you again.


    • Thank you for commenting. I’m tempted to edit out your asterisks in your grandson’s speech!
      That was the word in the anecdote I mentioned.
      Coincidentally, a blogger I follow on Twitter tweeted about inconsiderate speech on public transport near young children just as my post went live.


      • Hi Sue,
        Thank you for your comment about my grandson’s speech 🙂
        It’s interesting that someone else posted on inconsiderate speech in the presence of children.
        Ironically, I was treated to the ‘f’ word today by a man who wanted cash from me and didn’t like it when I explained that we give food and drink, but not cash. (I had just parked in the church grounds and was walking towards the church when he approached me)
        When I got inside church, I discovered that he had already approached several other people in the same way, and that one recently-widowed lady ended up in tears.
        I have tweeted briefly about this.


  2. There is great power in words. In today’s society usage seems to be rather selective depending on who or what group is using the word. Potentially offensive words if used at all should be used for specific impact. To casually banter obscenities about does nothing but take away impact value of those words and dirty up our everyday language. There are always better ways to express ourselves.

    Tossing It Out


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