Vulgar Words

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Inviting an artist such as Cee Lo, whose signature song is “F You” and expecting G-rated, milk toast, lukewarm entertainment is a bit like expecting the same from a comedy concert with George “Seven Dirty Words” Carlin. 

Had Carlin been invited to this year’s Riverbend and actually appeared, I would definitely have wanted to see that.

It was in late grammar school or else junior high after hearing repeated lectures about “vulgarity” from various adults, sometimes directed specifically as me sometimes not, that I actually looked the word, or rather the word from which it is derived (vulgar), up.  The meaning of “vulgar” is “coming from the common folk.”   

Since I knew even then that there were Latin-based words with the exact same meaning (for example, the first four of Carlin’s seven words would be defecate, urinate, copulate, and vagina), I strongly suspected that the reason these words were shunned in “polite” society was their origin in the Anglo-Saxon tongue vis-à-vis the Norman French tongue imported across the Channel from the Continent.

I wasn’t able to confirm my suspicions beyond a reasonable doubt until I was at UTC and had access to the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, which included “those” words.  Sure enough, they are all rooted in the Germanic languages of the fifth and sixth centuries invaders of the Isle of Britain as opposed to that of the later eleventh century Norman (and Breton and Flemish) invaders of the eleventh century speaking the Latin-based French language who became the ruling upper class. 

I have noticed that in the past couple of decades quite a number of British (Yiddish too, by the way) “swear words” on prime time T.V. here in the U.S.A. that across the water are considered equally impolite and profane as Carlin’s “seven dirty words.  But rather than being outraged most of those who would be shocked and awed at use of American-style vulgarity respond with “Oh, how cute!” since they’re “British.” 

So, the bias against these words had more to do with pretentious snobbery than the actual meaning of the words themselves.  In response to the protest against this conclusion that it is not the words themselves but how they are used, I ask why then the focus on these words when there are so much more hurtful ways of speaking to others that cause much more harm?  A bit hypocritical, wouldn’t you say?  

To some people, though, appearance, rather than reality, is what matters.  I seem to recall a rather noted historical figure who condemned such an attitude and find it ironic that most people throwing stones at Cee Lo probably believe they are acting in his name. 

Chuck Hamilton


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Why Red Bank District 3 Is Without A Commissioner Almost A Year - And Response

As 50-year residents of Red Bank (District 3), we are concerned about the upcoming election.  Two incumbents running for commissioner are the same two who refused to appoint a commissioner for District 3 when a vacancy occurred.  District 3 has been without representation since February.  Rick Causer and Floy Pierce refused to vote to appoint three different citizens ... (click for more)

Man Shot At Apartments On Tunnel Boulevard Wednesday Afternoon, Then 2 Juveniles Shot At Rec Center On Oakwood Drive With Suspects In Custody

Chattanooga police officers responded to the apartment buildings at 404 Tunnel Blvd. Wednesday at 1:21 p.m., where residents say they heard multiple shots fired.  Witnesses said they saw multiple suspects fleeing the scene on foot behind the complex.  The male victim was taken to a local hospital for life threatening gunshot wounds.  Later Wednesday, ... (click for more)

Several Arrested Outside Erlanger Hospital When Crowd Gathers After Woodlawn Shooting

Several people were arrested Monday night outside Erlanger Hospital after a crowd gathered and clashed with police. The crowd included family and friends of 20-year-old Apprentice Berry, who was shot multiple times and killed earlier Monday night at the Woodlawn Apartments on Wilson Street. Erlanger officials said the group gathered at the emergency room, but were later moved ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Advances In State Volleyball

SMYRNA, Tenn. – It’s a good thing that Signal Mountain volleyball coach Jennifer Redman is a young lady because her heart might not be able to stand the pressure if she wasn’t. Redman’s Lady Eagles were thisclose to being sent to the loser’s bracket in the opening round of the State Volleyball Tournament here at Stewarts Creek High School Wednesday afternoon. Had it been ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Sweeps Loretto To Open Class A State Volleyball

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Playing what coach Alfie Dodd called a sub-par match, Boyd-Buchanan’s Lady Bucs were still good enough to sweep Loretto, 3-0, Wednesday morning in the opening match of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Class A state volleyball tournament at Blackman High School. Set scores were 25-19, 25-14, 25-20. “We advance and we know we can ... (click for more)