1. Welcome to Smogon! Check out the Smogon Starters Hangout for everything you need to know about starting out in the community. Don't forget to introduce yourself in the Introduction and Hangout Thread, too!
  2. Welcome to Smogon Forums! Please take a minute to read the rules.

The Fallacy of Euphemisms

Discussion in 'Smogon's Greatest Hits' started by Orwell, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. Orwell

    Orwell

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    385
    Ok, I'm been mulling over this in my head for while and still can't come to a conclusion. Everyone knows what curses and swear words are, but what about euphemisms, words used to make other terms (in this case swear words) sound less offensive? Some people, in particular my old Spanish teacher, would say "sugar", instead of...you know. Basically my question is, if someone starts using a multitude of euphemisms like "bullspit" or "sugar" or "motherfather" in lieu of curse words, does the heavily implied frustration/anger/pain defeat the purpose of using "fake curses" in particular especially since everyone knows what you're trying to say?
  2. UnicronEX

    UnicronEX

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2005
    Messages:
    303
    The euphemism is never quite as extreme as the uttered curse.
  3. Kier

    Kier

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Messages:
    1,020
    Euphemisms always sound silly to me. Sure, they may be uttered with the same intentions, but someone saying "motherfather" doesn't have the same impact as the real deal. It makes me think of a preschool teacher or some shit like that.

    What I want to know is, how did curse words become "curse words", y'know? What gave them their negative connotation in the first place?

    :toast:
  4. monkfish

    monkfish what are birds?
    is a Forum Moderator Alumnus

    Joined:
    May 31, 2006
    Messages:
    5,004
    Everyone needs something to say when they are angry or hurt or w/e - if enough people start using a certain euphemism it will gain mental association with these negative feelings and turn into a curse-word itself. A 'soft' example of this is the (old-skool) word "berk" which is in fact rhyming slang ("Berkeley Hunt..."). That's just how language evolves.
  5. david stone

    david stone Fast-moving, smart, sexy and alarming.
    is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Smogon IRC AOp Alumnusis a Programmer Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Researcher Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    5,150
    Yeah, I guess the only advantage to using euphemisms is that random people won't be offended for whatever reason.

    I think mother father is my favorite (I just heard this one last week).

    I'm considering beginning "swearing", except I would just shout "A ES DEE EFF!" because that's what I spam when I want to show my e-anger! >=( (that's me angry)


    Also how many Smogon members do (or don't, I guess, would be a shorter list) swear? I, for one, only do when I'm quoting someone else, or when telling certain jokes. For the most part, I agree with Baines from Malcom X: "A man only curses because he doesn't have the words to say what's on his mind."
  6. Mekkah

    Mekkah
    is a Super Moderatoris a Tutor Alumnusis a Site Staff Alumnusis a Smogon IRC SOp Alumnusis a CAP Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis an Administrator Alumnus
    Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Messages:
    14,060
    I curse a lot, even if it's not needed. It seems to add power to statements, not to mention that I have a personal vendetta against "saying how I feel".
  7. david stone

    david stone Fast-moving, smart, sexy and alarming.
    is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Smogon IRC AOp Alumnusis a Programmer Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Researcher Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    5,150
    I hate it when people use curse words as what appears to be punctuation.

    "And then I fucking went to the fucking store and I was like fuck I forgot my fucking wallet."
  8. Hipmonlee

    Hipmonlee Have a rice day
    is a Smogon IRC AOp Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnusis a Past WCoP Winner

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Messages:
    7,337
    If you said "and then I went to the store and I was like I forgot my wallet" it wouldnt really convey the frustration..

    Have a nice day.
  9. chaos

    chaos
    is a member of the Site Staffis a Battle Server Administratoris a Programmeris a Smogon IRC SOPis a Contributor to Smogonis an Administratoris a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Researcher Alumnus
    Owner

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Messages:
    10,013
    it depends on who i'm around. around the guys, i'm a real "potty mouth", so to speak. ladies, i'm usually a bit more reserved although my girlfriend has heard me cuss a lot (and i dont think she likes it)!
  10. Orwell

    Orwell

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    385
    I guess euphemisms really are better, as it seems to me from the responses that people in general are more offended by the actual word (through the association of being "bad"), than the actual emotion of the person. While the differences in connotation are arbitrary IMO, it does makes sense. It's just as well I suppose. Even though I abhor cursing in most circumstances, everyone feels frustrated sometimes.
  11. Gouki

    Gouki nice times all the times
    is a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnusis a Past SPL Winnerdefeated the Smogon Frontier

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2007
    Messages:
    1,282
    Like Chaos said, I curse quite a lot with guys , whether I'm pissed, telling a joke or making fun of someone. When I'm talking to girls I tone down the pointless cursing, although if it's meant to be funny I can still swear quite a bit.

    btw this thread is fudging bullspit
  12. chaos

    chaos
    is a member of the Site Staffis a Battle Server Administratoris a Programmeris a Smogon IRC SOPis a Contributor to Smogonis an Administratoris a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Researcher Alumnus
    Owner

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Messages:
    10,013
    if the nick isn't capitalized, don't capitalize it

    anyway, I think euphemisms are stupid. people _know_ what you're thinking, whether or not you use the "correct" set of language to convey your thoughts is irrelevant. people need to stop being politically correct pussies.
  13. JimBob

    JimBob

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2005
    Messages:
    1,268
    everyone already knows what you mean when you say fudge instead of fuck, except you sound like an idiot. The only reason you should use euphemisms is if you are around a bunch of small children, and then I would just try to refrain from swearing or using euphemisms.

    I agree with this statement
  14. DM

    DM Ce soir, on va danser.
    is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Smogon IRC SOp Alumnus

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Messages:
    12,830
    I can't stand euphemisms. I also can't stand the fact that certain words have become "taboo" just because of what they mean. Okay, so "shit" refers to a turd... but I just said turd, isn't that the same thing? Having "cuss" words is retarded any way you look at it.

    I swear a lot. I feel it relieves stress in a way. I've even taking to swearing in front of my parents occasionally, and they've stopped chastising me for it because I'm an adult now.

    JimBob made me think of something... why do we watch our mouths around children? Is there some special age that humans reach where they're all of a sudden allowed to cuss? Everyone knows adults cuss. It will never go away. We should just stop censoring ourselves and let our children learn curse words, because once everyone knows them and uses them regularly... what's so taboo?
  15. chaos

    chaos
    is a member of the Site Staffis a Battle Server Administratoris a Programmeris a Smogon IRC SOPis a Contributor to Smogonis an Administratoris a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Researcher Alumnus
    Owner

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Messages:
    10,013
    I think it's a respect thing. Cussing seems inappropriate in the presence of anyone but your peers. If my brother told me to "fuck off", I would slap him upside the head!
  16. Kurgan

    Kurgan

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    87
    I've been cussing/cursing/swearing since I was a wee lad. This was not reflective of a poor vocabulary or the inability to recollect said vocab.

    It's 'cause I was hardcore. Since the dawn of time, a curse not only conveys the pure emotion inside of you, but lets everyone in the area know exactly how serious you are about this emotion. This is some pretty hardcore expression of self!

    When it comes to euphemisms, the same idea applies. Except instead of being hardcore, the user of the euphemism tries to apply a sense of innocence or perhaps even comedy in place of the seriousness of the curse. A euphemism then becomes the anti-swear. Holy smokes!!

    c wut i did thar?

    Of course, when it comes to the social stygma of what is and isnt acceptable, cursing then becomes entirely situational. For example:

    Tom is at the bank. He's waiting in line to deposit his paycheck. Ok, pretty standard situation here. No swearing necessary.

    Now, the guy behind Tom whips out a gun and screams, "ALRIGHT!! THIS IS A MOTHERFUCKING HEIST!!!!! I WANT TO SEE EVERY FUCKER IN HERE EATING SOME GOD DAMN CARPET IN 3 MOTHERFUCKING SECONDS!!!!!"

    First thing that shoots through Tom's mind is "Holy shit!!!" Now this would have been just as acceptable to shout out loud, however, this bank robber seems pretty jumpy, not to mention right behind Tom. Good call on keeping it to yourself Tom. Better just hit the floor. Second thing going through Tom's mind is "Did that bank robber just say 'heist'?" Tom finds this rather hilarious, and is now questioning the seriousness of the bank robber. Trying to buy time for the police to arrive, Tom musters up the courage to ask the bank robber:

    "Heist? Are you serious? You might as well have come in here and shouted "Alright folks!!! This is gonna be a REAL caper!!!"

    After cocking a rather curious eyebrow, the bank robber proceeds to shoot Tom in the knee.

    Now would be a great time for Tom to shout " OH FUCK ME!!!!", preferably repeatedly. This is actually encouraged whenever anyone is shot. But would Tom really scream out, "Holy Potato Pony!!! Heavens to Betsy, Son of a Gun!! Dang!"

    The robber proceeds in his scheme, demanding money from the teller and controling the crowd. A man about 5 feet away from Tom looks at Tom's leg and quietly says "Oh man, that leg is fucking gone."

    Now, the man on the ground 5 feet away from Tom could have easily said, "Oh man, that leg is gone.", omitting the swear completely. But this man decided to convey his total and utter dismay of what happened to Tom's leg. The leg isn't just gone. It's fucking gone. Of course, the man could also have expressed his shock like this: "Oh man, that leg's a goner."

    At this point, "goner" could be used as the euphemism for "fucking gone".
    I do believe the definition for a 'goner' is "a person or thing that is so far gone, it is gone forever; or in this case, fucking gone." Of course, the man could be completely swarthy and mix the euphemism with the swear, in a delicious harmony of sweet, sweet irony: "Oh man, that leg's a fucking goner."

    The scenario I created above refers to a certain "allowed" vulgarity when situations grow more and more serious. Essentially, cursing is situational. If I'm at a tea party, I'm not going to be slinging cusses around like a sailor. However, if a tiger shows up and starts a bunch of shit, I'm going to change my tune accordingly. Is it a baby tiger? Do I have to fight this tiger? Can I tame it and keep it as a pet?

    In essence, cursing is only another form of self expression. It allows you to add a sense of style to how and what you say. Euphemisms allow the same exact thing, but I do believe urk people just as often as cursing offends others. Another example:

    My parents want to take me out to dinner. I respond "F that." They know that I JUST cooked myself a perfectly fine dinner. This undermines my ability to support myself. But I still love them, because they just want to make sure that I am well-fed. Also, they most likely want to spend time with me. This is respectable. So I respect them by not swearing at them. My parents understand my dismay, and realize that I wasn't all that angry, but upset enough to not simply respond "No thank you, maybe some other time." I didn't drop the F-Bomb, but I had the hanger doors open.

    Now, if I had instead responded, "No, go fuck yourselves.", this situation would have most likely escalated into a rather heated argument or fight, aside from being strangely ironic.

    Using euphemisms is also a discplinary practice for those who "cuss like a pirate" and for those who wish not to take their lord's name in vain. I do believe this practice to be ultimately futile, but who am I to judge someone who wants to stop swearing. Hell, maybe they swear more than I do. I sure know that I could use some self control when it comes to swearing. But I gave up on that shit a long time ago. :D
  17. Bonnett

    Bonnett

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Messages:
    844
    whenever anyone says anything that could have even the slightest sexual connotation I always ask in a knowing voice whether it was a euphemism, I find it adds spice to many a conversation
  18. Siphai

    Siphai

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Messages:
    1,464
    I learned from highschool that curse words make just about any statement hilarious.

    Anyway, I realized that euphemisms were basically useless when I got punished for saying the word 'freaking' in lieu of 'fucking'.
  19. Kikuichimonji

    Kikuichimonji

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Messages:
    1,527
    Although I rarely use direct euphemisms, I often phrase messages in a manner that allows me to avoid the use of an expletive. For example, I'd consider an order to "Vacate the premises and engage in acts of fornication" to be far less inane than "Freak off." Additionally, my literal interpretation usually leads people to question whether profanity makes sense in that context. (It usually doesn't.) Of course, I refuse to question whether it is physically possible to fuck oneself, as it has been the speculation of many talentless hacks who have no idea how to be funny.
  20. glaceonkyle

    glaceonkyle

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2007
    Messages:
    28
    Euphemisms are useless, you still get bitched at for them. Just say the real word.
  21. Orwell

    Orwell

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    385
    Wow, you guys have really changed my mind. Simply, because the connotation of whatever you're saying is well known, you'll still only use the euphemism with people you would feel comfortable with anyway (your peers), where it usually sounds awkward anyway. If you're like me and hate swearing, then the key apparently is to exercise self-control and consciously avoid situations that would make you feel extremely angry/scared/stressed in the first place.
  22. Burn Jack

    Burn Jack

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    175
    The point of a euphemism is to avoid offence. In such instances, the offence is usually caused by the utterance of a specific word, so I guess using euphemisms that are distinct enough from the word you are trying to avoid would mean that offence would be avoided.

    Of course when it comes to being distinct from the taboo word, motherfather is probably still too close for some people, as is freaking, clearly. But I think you'd struggle to find anybody that would bitch at you for saying sugar. I suppose you are right in that it is best to try to avoid extreme anger at all — a good plan for life, really — but naturally this is not always possible. If such an instance should arise that you feel compelled to curse, sugar would always be preferable, provided it still gets the venting job done.
  23. Deck Knight

    Deck Knight Photorealistic Seagull (PSG)
    is a Forum Moderatoris a CAP Contributoris a Smogon Media Contributor
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 27, 2005
    Messages:
    7,592
    Euphemisms are worse than the ideas or phrases they are supposed to be substituted for. This doesn't matter much for curse words, but everyone knows what goes on when there's a dead man on you're floor and you're just "keeping it real."

    If your leg gets blasted off, don't tell me you're apendage-challenged, your fucking leg got blown off by some degenerate asshole.

    Euphemisms are essentially codespeak that nullifies humanity or muddies up a clear moral wrong. I'll try not to delve into anything too political, but we all know that a "mercy killing" usually has nothing to do with mercy and everything to do with killing. We all know a "sexually liberated" person is a (man)whore. It's fascinating how so many "people's republics of" are run by dictators. (Those all fall under the definition of a euphemism.)

    There are two kinds of euphemisms, those that substitute for swears and those that substitute for villiany.

    Either way I'm against them. Political correctness is pure, unadulterated bullshit. You wanna swear? I ain't gonna stop ya. -Fuck that!
  24. NESgamer

    NESgamer

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,876
    I don't think it is an acceptable language to curse, but everyone does, at some point of frustration you will curse somehow.

    I cuss a lot, and i don't hide it, doesn't mean is right, but i wouldn't use euphemisms just to make it sound "softly".
  25. Toph

    Toph

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    20
    The whole premise of curse words is kind of silly - "crap" and "shit" mean the same thing, but for whatever reason "shit" is more offensive. Did someone way back when rate various words on offensiveness or something?

    Anyway, curse words have a place in the English language - they add emphasis and whatnot.

Users Viewing Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 0)