Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Having the Appearance of Cussing, but Lacking the Power Thereof...


Here's an interesting article on pseudo cussing. BYU is, not surprisingly, mentioned:
With cable television liberally salting shows with the four-letter word that starts with F and government regulators effectively banning the same word from broadcast airwaves, a new middle ground has opened where euphemistic substitutes for the term flourish. In fact, popular culture in general is taking a shine to the cutesy, sound-alike cousins of the expletive, which are popping up on radio and television, in ads and offices, on playgrounds and at home.
Even toddlers are picking up the lingo. "A woman told me her 2-year-old told her to 'Shut the frickin' door,'" said Timothy Jay, author of "Cursing in America."
Euphemisms such as "flipping," he says, are viable alternatives that traditionally protect listeners from the offensive word and protect speakers from breaking a taboo.
Among Mormon students at Brigham Young University campuses these days, "fetch" is one substitute for the curse word, but not as popular as "flippin', freakin' and freak," says Kay Ushijima, a BYU student preparing a senior thesis on the topic.
Mormons are supposed to avoid even "the very appearance of evil." So what's the alternative? Aren't there some non-profane, non-vulgar, non-obscene exclamations out there? What about quoting Robin's expletives from the old Batman TV series ("Holy diabolical plot, Batman!")?

I served as an LDS missionary in the Taiwan Taipei Mission, where a favorite exclamation was the Chinese phrase "Zao gao!" (literally, "messy cake"). It seemed innocuous enough.

On a final note, the website of the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Lubbock, Texas seems to take the (messy) cake when it comes to avoiding cussing. They even find "Holy cow!" out-of-bounds:
Holiness is an attribute, a perfection of God in which we view God separated from all sin (morally and spiritually). A cow has no soul, it is a-moral and is without a I spirit. These kind of words have a way of making light of God's character. There also is nothing Holy about smoke. It too, is a euphemistic way of using a word with a wrong intent to make it seem acceptable, and with lightness (in vain).
(Cows don't have souls? Ah, never mind, that's a discussion for another day.)