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View Full Version : Do you ever think about your curses?


Cathy C
02-23-2007, 02:12 AM
On the "Let's start over" thread, I originally responded to aruna with "Heavens no!" I don't swear very much in print, of the four-letter variety, but because of my upbringing, I quite often use "deity-related" exclamations and curses, even though they really don't "mean" anything in my head. Now, for those easily offended, stop now, because I'm going to invoke a whole bunch of things here that may or may not be offensive to some. I WILL be nice enough to use asterisks to replace letters so they don't wind up painted all over the internet.

It made me wonder about cursing in general among the NT crowd. So I ask you---should a curse/exlamation have "value" or are they just words blurted out in a crisis or moment of joy? By having value, I mean SHOULD the words selected have a meaning to the person or is it actually BETTER that they're just random words?

For example, some of those I use (a few are regional or creative interpretations):

Je*us H. Ch**st!
G***amn it!
OMG! or Oh...my...god!
F**king Ch**st on a crutch!
Holy h*ll!
Holy sh*t!
Heavens no!
Oh good lord, yes!
Oh, for god's sake!

These are just so ingrained in my psyche that I don't know if I could quit if I tried. I hear plenty of avid church-goers who say the same things (and, in fact, LEARNED a few from church members as a kid!) so it makes me wonder if non-theistic people should be wary of using deity-related comments or if they're just words that have no value.

Next, when you write deity-related curses, do you capitalize them in your head, or even on the page? Do you find you have to go BACK in your writing to alter these phrases that your characters might say?

Remember, I'm not looking for comments on blasphemy or people saying I'm going to go to hell for bringing up the topic. It really is an issue in writing and I have found myself going back to capitalize things that I know the editor will consider proper nouns.

wordsmyth
02-23-2007, 02:23 AM
I'm so glad you posted this, because it reminded me of a question.

What does the H. stand for in Jesus H. Christ? Henry, Howard, Him?

And, does anyone create epithets for their characters? A friend of mine says "sunkinaditch" for son of a *itch, and I say "piffnwaffle" instead of bull**it and another friend says "oh my hell" instead of "oh my christ".

Curiouser and curiouser....

Sean D. Schaffer
02-23-2007, 03:05 AM
I don't know, Cathy. I see just as many Theistic-thinking people using such curses as I do Non-Theistic. I know I myself have to constantly guard against certain curses because of my own faith. But at the same time, I'm not so worried about other curses such as 'Bullsh*t' or 'Cr*p', etc.

It could be seen as a weird thing, but I'm more likely to use the real F word in a conversation than I am to mention a deity in such talk. I think it's a respect-for-the-said-deity thing more than a respect-for-other-people's-ears thing.

At least that's my experience. I hope it helps, and I personally wouldn't worry too much about saying something like 'Heavens no'. As far as curses go, I think most people, unless they've lived very sheltered lives, have heard just about every curse their language has to offer... and in many cases, have probably spoken at least a few of them.

:)


ETA:

In answer to your other question, I don't know if this will help much or not, but if I were writing a deity-related curse, I would probably be willing to capitalize, simply because many deities are addressed by a proper name (such as Zeus or Odin). The word 'god' is not always capitalized because it can refer to more than one deity in a more general sense.

One might note, for example, that I refer to my Deity as 'G-d', with a capital 'G' and a dash between the first and last letters. This is because this is to many a proper name. But just referring to any deity out there as a god does not, IMO, require the capital 'G' because it is not considered a proper name for the said deity.

So I think the fact a deity is called by a proper name, not whether or not a person believes in the said being, would be the overriding factor in whether or not to capitalize it.

Rich
02-23-2007, 03:09 AM
It's kinda like Harry S. Truman. Neither has meaning. There's a certain resonance about saying "Jesus H. Christ!" Not that I've taken to it.

benbradley
02-23-2007, 03:34 AM
The abbreviation OMG could have the meaning "Oh My Goodness" which I presume isn't blasphemous at all.

Any of my characters who use these phrases will use them like "real people" do:

Losing a job, "Oh my God, this just sucks bigtime" (a somewhat blasphemous use of God, without much thought or reverence).

The death of a loved one, "Oh my God, Oh my God, why did you take him/her, why have you done this to me?" (clearly speaking to The Creator, not blasphemous except possibly in one's grief questioning what He has done).

I suppose this has more to do with writing the character's actions to be true to their beliefs rather than what the writer believes.

If I recall the etymology correctly, damn was originally a religious term meaning God condemning someone to Hell, but it has become a swear word (probably much like Hell has too, apparently). It's interesting that capitalized, Hell tends to have its original meaning of that place where the unrepentant go after death, but hell lower-case is just a general swear word, or a more figurative sort of bad place, an uncomfortable situation.

And speaking of being blasphemous (and no doubt this IS blasphemous!), I always thought Jesus Christ's middle initial was F (as in the F word, adjective/adverb form).

veinglory
02-23-2007, 03:40 AM
I see myself as a member of a religious world and don't worry about my language reflecting that whether it is "heavens above" or "In Sh'Allah". I also put an angel on my Christmas tree and use biblical symbols in my poems.

This is just part of being in a predominantly Christian country and not a statement of faith. In fact I would assume the use of blasphemy to be rather the reverse? I also own an American flag but am not American, a leather motocycle jacket but no motorcycle and 80 rubber duckies but no bathtub.

nancy02664
02-23-2007, 04:37 AM
In daily life, I try to avoid swears/curses that have anything to do with religion, for two reasons. First, they have no value to me (just as Cathy mentioned). Second, when I use 'religious' swears, I feel like I'm ceding that certain religious words are somehow powerful/meaningful -- that I'm somehow supporting religion (in a very roundabout way). So, because they have no value, and because I don't want to unwittingly ascribe them any value, I avoid them.

I do agree with what veinglory said -- that referencing religion in daily life doesn't amount to a statement of faith. Still, in practice, I dislike it when religious words/practices seep into my own speech and habits, and I do what I can to prevent this from happening.

In print, I capitalize all proper nouns. I don't always like to do it (I often have this urge to go back and demote the first letters of certain religious words, just to be antagonistic) but I do it anyway. In e-mails and other informal writing, though, it's a totally different story.

Higgins
02-23-2007, 05:33 AM
In daily life, I try to avoid swears/curses that have anything to do with religion, for two reasons. First, they have no value to me (just as Cathy mentioned). Second, when I use 'religious' swears, I feel like I'm ceding that certain religious words are somehow powerful/meaningful -- that I'm somehow supporting religion (in a very roundabout way). So, because they have no value, and because I don't want to unwittingly ascribe them any value, I avoid them.

I do agree with what veinglory said -- that referencing religion in daily life doesn't amount to a statement of faith. Still, in practice, I dislike it when religious words/practices seep into my own speech and habits, and I do what I can to prevent this from happening.

In print, I capitalize all proper nouns. I don't always like to do it (I often have this urge to go back and demote the first letters of certain religious words, just to be antagonistic) but I do it anyway. In e-mails and other informal writing, though, it's a totally different story.


Thank God I'm not exactly an athiest (I am strictly Christian in Name Only)!
I would have to give up the pleasures of blaspheumy.

Blastpheumy is no fun unless you have that little zip that comes from knowing that God has not seen fit to assassinate you yet and has not gotten to beat you up after you are dead yet....well...because you aren't dead yet so he can't beat you up after you're dead.

By the way, that is my personal definition of God, the only Person we admire and love for seriously threatening to beat us up after we are dead. You want to say, "Hey, that's a Big step for You, Big Guy, I mean, not beating me up right now but being so cosmically polite as to save my beatings for my post-mortem state."...but geez -US you sure as he***A***ylil**Fi*ul don't REALLY say that. My God, he would kick you around the block for a week for that sort of cosmic infraction. I feel sore just thinking about it.

calamity
02-24-2007, 02:08 AM
Jesus H Christ -- H as in "Holy"?

shrugs.

But I do capitalize my deity-related curses.

I find it interesting that people would censor an entire part of their vocabulary based on their being atheist. It's kind of weird.

Sean D. Schaffer
02-24-2007, 02:32 AM
Jesus H Christ -- H as in "Holy"?



I've heard the middle initial is F. And no, I'm not going to say what that initial stands for. Besides, I think it's pretty self-explanatory, especially when you put an 'ing' after the initial.

aruna
02-28-2007, 02:11 PM
Despite my claims to non-theistic spirituality, I do not reject religion or God. In fact, I am open to most religions and greatly enjoy going to a church which has an eloquent and passionate vicar and enthusiastic congregation (I found just such a church in England) or a Hindu or a Buddhist temple. The atmosphere in such places is exquisitie, and a great help tp me.

I don't use any religious terms to swear with. Nor do I use "dirty" words. That's because I feel that words are important and actually alter the mind to reflect what they mean. If I use the word God, I want it to mean exactly that, with all the respect due that word.

When I was a child, raised atheist, I had neverthess a tremendous awe for the word "God". Whenever I heard someone take it in vain to curse or something it would make me cringe and I felt they had done something terrible. It was an instinctive reaction; nobody told me this, and in fact my father always spoke disparagingly of God and religion. That's the way it was.

I've developed a thicker skin now, both in terms of religious swear words and cuss words, but I still never use them myself. I would certainly let my characters use them, though.

loquax
02-28-2007, 10:48 PM
Science H. Logic!

Rich
02-28-2007, 11:06 PM
I remember reading something about the word "Golly!"--an innocent white expression--being a distortion of "God's Little Body!" Anybody here have any information on it?

I figure Reph, or Medievalist would have some knowledge of this.

Sean D. Schaffer
02-28-2007, 11:22 PM
I remember reading something about the word "Golly!"--an innocent white expression--being a distortion of "God's Little Body!" Anybody here have any information on it?

I figure Reph, or Medievalist would have some knowledge of this.


I've not heard of that particular one, but I have heard of similiar oaths. They're called 'minced oaths', and I've been rebuked in church for using some because they were considered just as evil as the real word.

In my own case, the oath I got in trouble for, was 'Darn'. Because it was supposedly a child's way of saying 'Damn' it was deemed wrong and I was forced to apologize for it. That was the first time I had ever heard of the term 'minced oath'.

I believe someone gave me a link to a site called 'minced-oaths', but I do not remember the URL. Perhaps Google will be able to help you find it.

Higgins
02-28-2007, 11:40 PM
Science H. Logic!

Or distortions of Logic: Logguodeedodo!!!

benbradley
03-01-2007, 02:12 AM
I remember reading something about the word "Golly!"--an innocent white expression--being a distortion of "God's Little Body!" Anybody here have any information on it?

I figure Reph, or Medievalist would have some knowledge of this.
I've not heard of that meaning of it, nor of 'minced oaths' as Sean mentioned, but I do recall at age eight or so visiting my aunt and uncle's, seeing a soldering gun in a Popular Mechanics and saying "Go-lleeee" just like Gomer Pyle. My aunt said "Don't say that," I asked why not, and she just said "it's not nice." I had no clue of why it wasn't nice or why she was objecting. Many years later I think I understood where my aunt was coming from: that she a strong Christian, and that "golly" is a euphemism for God, and by saying it I was taking God's name in vain.

veinglory
03-05-2007, 04:52 AM
Without dirty words and blasphemy how would you swear at all? It has to have some element of transgression to "work".

Melisande
04-18-2007, 09:13 PM
Ever since I moved to the US my favourite curse has been DANG!, a word I find simply irresistible. I use it often and with immense joy.

However, if I really feel a need to get rough, I use the F word, but spell it out, like; eff-u-cee-kay. It gives me a wonderful satisfaction in situations where I for instance hit my toe or something alike.

So called blasphemous cursing doesn't give me any satisfaction at all, because it doesn't mean anything to me.

Oh, and I got curious about the H and tried to look it up. Found this explanation at Wikipedia;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_H._Christ


When writing I capitalize God, etc. I do it to show that I don't mean any disrespect.

Higgins
04-18-2007, 09:58 PM
Ever since I moved to the US my favourite curse has been DANG!, a word I find simply irresistible. I use it often and with immense joy.

However, if I really feel a need to get rough, I use the F word, but spell it out, like; eff-u-cee-kay. It gives me a wonderful satisfaction in situations where I for instance hit my toe or something alike.

So called blasphemous cursing doesn't give me any satisfaction at all, because it doesn't mean anything to me.

Oh, and I got curious about the H and tried to look it up. Found this explanation at Wikipedia;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_H._Christ


When writing I capitalize God, etc. I do it to show that I don't mean any disrespect.

Hmmmmmm...here's another source on IHS:

http://www.catholicculture.org/lit/overviews/months/01_1.cfm


It seems possible the "H" is a Greek E (eta?). In which case J. E. Christ would be closer to the Divine Name or even J. E. Josephson.

Melisande
04-18-2007, 10:27 PM
It seems possible the "H" is a Greek E (eta?). In which case J. E. Christ would be closer to the Divine Name or even J. E. Josephson.

Very interesting, didn't know that. Now I do.

And suddenly the whole thing with a mid initial falls flat to the ground, doesn't it?

Higgins
04-18-2007, 10:35 PM
Very interesting, didn't know that. Now I do.

And suddenly the whole thing with a mid initial falls flat to the ground, doesn't it?

If you sit in church (Catholic or Episcopal anyway), the pulpit (or perhaps some other "lectionary?") is decorated with a cloth that has "IHS" on it. So if "IHS" is the "Initials of Jesus" then "H" is his middle initial. So it is a good visual joke for church-goers of a certain sort.

Melisande
04-18-2007, 11:18 PM
If you sit in church (Catholic or Episcopal anyway), the pulpit (or perhaps some other "lectionary?") is decorated with a cloth that has "IHS" on it. So if "IHS" is the "Initials of Jesus" then "H" is his middle initial. So it is a good visual joke for church-goers of a certain sort.


OK. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I have never been inside a Catholic or Episcopal church and didn't know that.

What I meant with my comment was that when I visited the website you linked to, and when I saw the name of Jesus written with greek letters it just seemed so clear that there shouldn't be a mid initial at all. But of course, that was only a reflection expressed by me. I understand that a tradition of more than 1.700 years has enormous weight.

McDuff
04-20-2007, 09:35 AM
The H stands for Haploid.

Zoombie
04-20-2007, 11:02 AM
Someone beat me to the Science H. Logic joke. Dang.

The creepy thing is, after watching a lot of BSG, I've started to swear with "Gods."

Example: The light turns red and we're forced to wait. "Gods damn it!"

I get derezed by an enemy ICP: "Gods damn you!"

One of my freinds drops a hydrogen bomb on Morroco and I lose 5.23 million civlians: "Gods damn it, you f@#!ing son of a bitch!"


And so on.

Oh and before anyone asks: Real Life, Tron 2.0 and Defcon.

StephanieFox
03-06-2008, 04:56 AM
is because of the tension released by the explosive consonant. It's CHE-sus! FarKling Krist! Sh*T! Kawd damn iT! (etc, etc, etc)

This is NOT religion, it's phonetics.

That's why "Martha!" or "Lalalala!" or "Snow!" doesn't work as well and why most people use the other terms.

Can you imagine saying "Martha!" after your car plows into another?

Dave.C.Robinson
03-25-2008, 03:21 AM
I sometimes use "Great Mothering Thor!"

I don't know why, but it works for me.

Melisande
03-28-2008, 05:04 AM
One of my beloved Hubby's favourite cussings is "Great Ceasar's Ghost!". Don't know where he got it from, or what it might imply, but I love it.

Dave.C.Robinson
03-28-2008, 05:06 AM
One of my beloved Hubby's favourite cussings is "Great Ceasar's Ghost!". Don't know where he got it from, or what it might imply, but I love it.

I don't know the origin, but Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet uses that a lot in Superman comics. It's become a character trademark.

Lhun
04-01-2008, 04:56 PM
You know, what i really don't get is people using totally obvious substitutions instead of proper swearwords. If you think swearing is too offensive don't do it. Saying freck instead of fuck will make no difference at all. I mean, who the freck do you think you're kidding? Everyone knows exactly what you really meant to say. It's not as if a slighty different sounding syllable is going to fool anyone. And if you want to vent frustration in a non-offensive way just try a loud and healthy arrgh.
Even worse is substituting single letters in a forum. It's not like anyone can't see the word, an asterisk instead of a vowel is not good camouflage. Unless you're doing it to fool a word filter, which is a really impolite thing to do because you're either saying the mods of the forum are too stupid to figure out you just wrote a word they don't want to see or saying you don't respect their whish to not have certain language and are forcing them to edit you manually.

Anyway, i'm pretty goddamn atheistic and don't waste a seconds' thoughts on presumably blasphemous utterings. While i don't see any personal significance in saying, for example, "goddamn" it's a cultural expression that will get a certain meaning across. And if someone else is offended by it i don't really sympathize. Even if i wouldn't think of "blasphemous" as one of the most ridiculous ideas known to man, it'd still be my own soul i'd endanger and that's noone else's business.

GeorgeK
05-18-2008, 12:59 AM
H = Horatio

MumblingSage
05-25-2008, 07:57 PM
I'm under the impression that if you're cursing by the Christian god, that would be God, because it's a proper noun and thus should be capitalized.

Ruv Draba
05-29-2008, 07:28 AM
I remember reading something about the word "Golly!"--an innocent white expression--being a distortion of "God's Little Body!" Anybody here have any information on it?

From www.etymonline.com (http://www.etymonline.com):
golly (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=golly) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=golly) euphemism for God, first recorded 1775, in a source that refers to it as "a sort of jolly kind of oath, or asseveration much in use among our carters, & the lowest people."

Some that are more interesting, if sometimes archaic:

gosh (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=gosh) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=gosh) 1757, altered pronunciation of God. Probably from by gosse (mid-16c.).
gee (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=gee) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=gee) exclamation of surprise, 1895, euphemistic for Jesus. Form gee whiz is attested from 1885.
heck (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=heck) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=heck) euphemistic alteration of hell (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hell), first recorded 1865.
marry (interj.) (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=marry) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=marry) a common oath in the Middle Ages, c.1350, now obsolete, a corruption of the name of the Virgin Mary
zounds (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=zounds) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=zounds) 1600, oath of surprise or anger, altered from (by) God's wounds!

One that I thought was religious (abbreviating "By Our Lady"), but which seems not to be:

bloody (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bloody) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=bloody) O.E. blodig, adj. from blod (see blood (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=blood)). It has been a British intens. swear word since at least 1676. Weekley relates it to the purely intensive use of the cognate Du. bloed, Ger. blut). But perhaps connected with bloods in the slang sense of "rowdy young aristocrats" (see blood (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=blood)) via expressions such as bloody drunk "as drunk as a blood." Partridge reports that it was "respectable" before c.1750, and it was used by Fielding and Swift, but heavily tabooed c.1750-c.1920, perhaps from imagined association with menstruation; Johnson calls it "very vulgar," and OED first edition writes of it, "now constantly in the mouths of the lowest classes, but by respectable people considered 'a horrid word', on par with obscene or profane language." Shaw shocked theatergoers when he put it in the mouth of Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion" (1914), and for a time the word was known euphemistically as "the Shavian adjective." It was avoided in print as late as 1936.

Ziljon
05-29-2008, 07:37 AM
I have a friend that shouts "jeezle pete!" when he's angry.

I too, like someone mentioned earlier, love to say 'Dang!'

Cranky
05-29-2008, 08:05 AM
My favorites are:

Goshdarnit.

God Bless America!

God Bless it!

Drat(ted).

Blast(ted).

Geeze O' Pete!

Dagnabit!

Farkin'.

And yes, I really do use these. Little pitchers and their enormous, always-listening ears, yanno.

benbradley
05-29-2008, 08:28 AM
I don't know the origin, but Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet uses that a lot in Superman comics. It's become a character trademark.
I remember him saying that in the '50's Superman TV series. I was, of course, watching reruns of it in the '70's, I'm not quite THAT old...

DWSTXS
05-29-2008, 08:40 AM
I've always heard (but never used):

Jesus H Christ on a popsicle stick!

beachboy2
06-01-2008, 06:51 PM
do not like the way God is substituted for a swear word...even movies do this which is more offensive that usuing a swear word.