Bad Language: Our Household History

I am a child of the seventies.  My generation listened as profanity switched from absurdly scandalous to cutting-edge conversational. My parent embraced the zeitgeist with humor and creativity.

Yet, I live in a home free of rough words.

I do not curse because I married a Russian.

In Russia, women and children never use profanity. To do so would be as taboo as using ethnic slurs in our culture—offensive in the extreme. In seventeen years of marriage, my husband’s worst oath has been “The devil can have this as a gift!”

It took me a month to temper my language around my new husband. A year later, my brain re-wired itself so much that my own mother scandalized me. Seventeen years later, my Mom re-wired her brain for her blushing daughter!

Every household is a miniature culture, with its own customs and prohibitions. Our home honors Russian tradition and my injunction against personal insults.  We do not say “stupid”, “idiot,” or demand someone to “shut up.”

So, this summer, my brows lifted when I overheard Liev’s cartoon du jour, Phineas and Ferb, feature a shut up-stupid shouting match.

I didn’t ban the cartoon outright. He will hear the same words at a playground or at school. At six, Liev seemed ready for a life lesson on bad language.


House of Curses

Actually, I was the one who learned a life lesson about bad language.

To be continued…

11 thoughts on “Bad Language: Our Household History

  1. Oh man, swear words are part of the air in our household. My hubby is Scottish and can make Gordon Ramsey sound like Mary Poppins. I can sound like a sailor & even the 3 year old & baby have mastered some basic swear words & colourful expressions. The only civilized one is my five year old, in kindergarten he learned about ‘bad words’ and gives us heck every time we use them;-)

    I cringe at the thought of what your husband must think of us. I will say we never use swear words directed at someone or say ‘shut up’ (unless they are outside the family & tic us off;-).

    Ummm… Can I make a case for inventive adjectives??

    1. Ha! I grew up in a house similar to yours. My dad is part Scottish as welll, and a few of his choice words will curl your toes! My mother is the more creative of the two–it was a tremendous shock to meet and fall in love with such a clean-mouthed fellow!

      After spending 15 years in America, my husband does not cringe at the language used outside the house. He accepts cultural differences, but firmly maintains his own tradition. He enjoys foul mouthed comedians greatly. I think it is a matter of context.

      Thank you for visiting and sharing with me. I will be on the lookout for “inventive” adjectives. I can do that!

  2. Oh my!!
    I cant wait to hear what you learned!!
    Does it bother you when your reading and people swear? I swear in some circles and others not, but I swear when I write because the word fits, while writing for myself.
    But I hate the idea of alienating people if they come to my space..

    1. Hannah!

      I should have added that my reaction to cursing all depends on the context. My eyeballs will pop if my Mom tosses a few explitives around at our dinner table, but I grew up in a home with plenty of swearing. So, swearing in the right place is nostalgic!

      I absolutely do not mind blue words when I read. Writing is about feeling and self expression, speaking is about propriety. The marvelous complexity of our language allows refined and risque words to sit in the same sentence with spectacular effect.

      I am embarrassed if I came across as prissy or intolerant. I value every written word and enjoy your blog immensely!


      1. Prissy!? No way!
        It’s just something I’m aware of!
        I swear like a trooper but I have sent adult family members to thinking time for swearing in front of the kids!
        It’s all about context; I love the way you have described language here.
        Your a lovely duck!

  3. I’m eager as well to hear read your follow up post!

    I swear. A lot. Maybe, not in written word, interestingly, but a lady I am not. Mostly, because I say things that are not necessarily swear words, but crude and unlady like. I married a man raised mostly by his British grandmother, so he’s okay with it! 🙂

    1. I like diversity in language, despite the restrictions in our own home. I never considered myself a lady, either. I could never keep all the rules straight! It’s good that you and your hubby are on the same wavelength. Sometimes, I wonder how two people with such cultural differences could have such a delightful marriage. Well, luck me! And lucky you, too! 🙂

  4. We do not use any those types of words either. I used to make men blush with the vulgarities that rushed from my lips. However, most of the time I did not even realize I was being such a “potty mouth.” Lol!

    I re-wired my brain years ago for “religious” purposes years ago, but now it is just a natural thing. My kids have used more fowl language than myself because of shows – mostly them asking what the words mean. Ariel has busted my husband on many occasion saying, “I know what you said” while spelling the word. Ha ha ha

    I think the words stupid, idiot, or shut-up are far worse than, say dropping the “f-bomb.” I did go into a spiral of research of the etymology of those types of words because I became intrigued with where they came from several years ago.

    I too look forward to reading the rest of your story!

  5. Thank you Angel!

    I appreciate your visitis with me! 🙂

    We share in common evolved potty mouths. I never look down on the usual “bad” words. It would be a slap in the face to my culture!

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, that insulting words, though they are “milder” curses are far worse because of their intent. Colorful phrases can amuse, insults injure.

    I’ve looked up the entymologies too! How cool is that? curious minds rock! 🙂

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