Sunday, January 9, 2011

Learn to speak, please.

Inspired by the man who approached my deli counter today, I'm going to rant.

The man works in a neighbouring store, and he'd just come back after a week or so on holidays. Unfortunately, he'd not considered that his stock would be frozen if he'd not thawed it the night before. So he came to where I was and asked me, and I kid you not, for "8-f***ing bucks of bacon."

For the sake of the argument, because I'll be repeating the above asterisked part frequently, we shall henceforth shorten it to f-n. I am lazy today.

As I was preparing his bacon, he begins telling me a story.
His f-n staffy had f-n woken him up in the middle of the f-n night, and then there was an f-n storm, would ya believe, and the f-n rain was so f-n loud that he couldn't get back to sleep and he was f-n back at work after being on holidays and it was f-n terrible and now he was waiting for his meat to f-n thaw so he could make sandwiches and that's why he needed 8 f-n bucks of bacon.

I am not even exaggerating.
So I merely blinked at him, and got his bacon and then $4 of ham.
He thanked me.
And he left, after lamenting to the counter staff his woes.

My rant comes now with oh my gosh, learn some English. I don't care if people swear. I mean, I personally try not to swear as to me it's not classy (and there are a whole variety of other words you can use). But I'm not going to start clamping my ears down and shouting, "LA LA LA LA LA LA," at the top of my lungs because I've heard someone hurl out an expletive.
However, in the instance of this colourful man, I honestly wanted to pick up said bacon and hurl it at him in disgust. Probably would have gotten me fired, and I kinda need dosh, so I restrained myself.
But here is my point.
Swearing in such a fashion doesn't make your story more interesting.
It doesn't make it any more emphatic.
You don't sound educated.
You do, however, portray an extremely stereotypical version of a bogan.
What's so wrong with using such words sparingly - you could have added a lot more emphasis with just one of those f-ns in just the right spot - and consciously, so you don't come across like a complete idiot?
Mind you, I can't really see a point where swearing would have added appropriate emphasis. The story tells the same without any of it.

Before you start hurling rocks at me sitting on what appears to be a high horse, my horse is actually a miniature pony. I used to swear like Exhibit A with the staffy. When people start wincing at you and eyeing you to see if you're being serious speaking like that, there's a small issue. I learned very quickly that it's not the right image to portray. Yeah, you might be speaking to the random girl holding fort behind the deli, but you also could be speaking to someone you may want to impress later with your suave persona and dazzling manner - be it in a job situation, friends, whatever. A small thing to keep in mind when you're speaking.

And with all its complications, English is a downright awesome language. We might not be like Spanish and have tons of ways to say love, but we do have excellent words that can be used in a variety of situations to convey at least a semblance of intelligence. I am a personal fan of brouhaha:

noun [usu. in sing.]
a noisy and overexcited critical response, display of interest, or trail of publicity: 24 members resigned over the brouhaha | all that election brouhaha.

ORIGIN    late 19th cent.: from French, probably imitative.

Rather than talking about how the rain was with a variety of words dragged from the nether regions of the slang dictionary, you could perchance use loathsome, or abhorrent.

causing hatred or disgust; repulsive: this loathsome little swine.

ORIGIN    Middle English: from archaic loath [disgust, loathing] + -some.

inspiring disgust and loathing; repugnant: racial discrimination was abhorrent to us all.

ORIGIN    late 16th cent.: from Latin abhorrent - 'shuddering away from in horror,' from the vorb abhorrerre.

And if there's ever the occasion (and you can bet I'm going to find one now), you can use the word abyssopelagic, meaning of or pertaining to the depth of the ocean; of the abyss; of the pelagic zone.

I found that one by Googling this site, and they've also provided me with another beauty, logomachy.

noun (pl. -chies)
an argument about words.

ORIGIN    mid 16th cent.: from Greek logomakhia, from logos 'word' and -makhia 'fighting'.

The point is, there are so many fantastic words that English has to offer, and for the most part we stick to bland and tasteless words (with a few sewer-worthy words thrown in for good measure). You don't have to be David Astle, who is probably my favourite person out there. 
But come on, use a few stellar words that taste as delicious as Ferrero Rochers (universally awesome) once in a while, shake off that slick covering of bogan dirt, and revel in the beauty of the English language.
It's a downright gorgeous thing to behold.

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