You said what? Swearing can have shock-factor, but it can also be a tool for colourful conversation.
You said what? Swearing can have shock-factor, but it can also be a tool for colourful conversation. EverySpoon

OPINION: Swearing to tell the whole truth

LIFE AS I KNOW IT, with Lesley Apps:

SEEING tennis pro Andy Murray's fiance let fly with some colourfully insulting expletives at the Australian Open recently reminded me there was a real art to using vulgarities, and given this potty mouth has been honing the intricacies of dropping various alphabet bombs into everyday conversations since being old enough to vote, it could be said I'm a seasoned pro on the court too.

This doesn't necessarily mean every second word is an expletive, although it has been known to happen in a 10-second rush when the planets align, it just means you pull them out for the occasional airing for effectiveness, like you would with any other adjective, noun or verb to make your sentences interesting and appealing. It's not all about $@&%ing abusing someone.

The way you can judge whether you are a dab mouth at selective swearing is doing it in front of posh people. If they don't bat an eyelid, you've mastered it and if some amusement entails, you've just managed to scale Mount Thesaurus from the verbal gutter in one 'foul' swoop.

On the flipside, over-swearing to get your point across is just damn lazy, like that cloying flowery prose we get from PR companies espousing their adjective- riddled products. #@*%ing enough already, you traitors of the English language.

The most effective high (low)-end swearing is when you match a well known expletive with harmless language like 'stick', 'up' or 'face'. Thems can be harsh compound words to hear but give you much more traction if the circumstances ever arise when the terms 'darn' or 'fool' will not suffice.

Those once shocking standalone words that came with a exclamation mark at the end have lost their power as we become more desensitised thanks to the everyday cusser who is always %$#@ing thirsty or tired and loves to make this %$*& point every afternoon.

On the flipside, over-swearing to get your point across is just damn lazy.

When there are little ears around there's also an etiquette to follow. Although given the number of times 'Mummy stop saying naughty words' came from the back seat of my car (bad drivers is what did it) you realise just how reliant you become on cussing for catharsis.

Thankfully this never alluded to future behaviour patterns as a foul-mouthed four-year-old isn't pretty when that's how they tell you they're hungry.

But sometimes there's that isolated incident, when it's hard to hold back the laughter, when they apply the same term you have expressed once (or 100 times) in similar circumstances. $%#& stupid lid.

Thankfully the only public stoning this cursory curser encountered was the day the preschool teacher pulled me aside at pick-up time concerned about some rude words that unfolded between mine truly and a young friend. Totally mortified I asked gingerly what the offending prose was.

Let's just say I'd never been happier to here the terms 'poo' and 'bumhole' before.

That's almost AA Milne by my standards.

Lesley Apps is a Daily Examiner journalist, cynical feminist and 'unmodern' parent who harps on about topical and benign stuff in order to fill a weekly column. If you have a problem with this or want to see your interests/grievances featured, email: lesley.apps@dailyexaminer.com.au. Be kind.



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