Monday, August 11, 2014

Word of the Week - Profanity & Cursing

 An always-hot topic in Christian writing circles is the use of foul language. Is it ever okay in Christian fiction? Some words? What about others? Why or why not?

I have my own opinions on such things--namely, I don't use "bad language" but see no point in getting up in arms about those who do--but I find some of the distinctions very interesting.

What I definitely take issue with is profanity. Profane comes directly from the Latin profanus, which means "unholy." Profanity obviously is taken from profane, and it speaks directly to abusing/misusing the name of the Lord. So your average expletive is not profanity. And in fact, the original English translations of the Bible include words that today's Christians would probably raise a few eyebrows at, LOL.

Expletive just means exclamation...cuss is a variation on curse...

So then I jump to curse, thinking surely that this word will provide some good meaning. But curse has its roots, oddly enough, in, you know, a curse. As in "a prayer that evil will befall one." That's not exactly what modern cursing is either, is it? LOL

Looking at the etymology of these words themselves, it seems that our notion of bad language has just evolved over the centuries. "Rough" or "impolite" terms have slowly taken on the blight of being "bad." From "bad" they have become "cursing and profanity"...though in reality, most of them I've ever heard have nothing to do with actual curses or profaning the name of the Lord.

I still don't say them, because connotation means as much as denotation. But looking at it logically, I think the only things that strictly fall under these definitions are using the Lord's name in vain and wishing somebody be damned. Which, oddly, are two of the more acceptable ones. Oh, the irony...

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