You may not consciously be aware of it, but writing makes up a lot of the world we live in. Just about anything we do today involves writing to some level. Contracts, personal letters, emails, applications, scripts, street signs, signs of any kind (really); we are constantly using our eyes for reading. I’ve been brushing up on my college communications textbook. The book relays that we are constantly communicating. When asked a question, even choosing not to answer is communicating that you’ve chosen not to answer a question.
Writing is just one form of communication, one that we often take for granted, I feel. Subsequently, reading is another form and forever remains intertwined with writing. You can’t have one without the other.
Just about everyone can read or write, but there was a time when not everyone could. Even so, the ability to read, comprehension of what you read, and your ability to put words into sentences are just a few factors that determine your range of vocabulary. The combination of all of these things might allow you a higher degree of conveyance, though it may be lost on those without the vocabulary.
Everyone understands cussing, on the other hand. No need for a wide vocabulary there. I used to cuss a lot more when working at Parker, not that it’s Parker’s fault. Of course, I would get really minor injuries that would cause the “offensive” outbursts like loose wire cutting my hand running along the hose or scraping my knuckles from the wrench slipping.
Mechanics are known to cuss, probably second to sailors (my mom used to say that her first language was sailor, or something like that). Writers are probably the last people you expect to use curse words. Myself, I’ve had my profession used against me countless times when opting to use the more “inappropriate” words. Of course writers are held to a higher standard, why wouldn’t they be? Considering their vast vocabulary and a plethora of words to choose from.
Yet the emotional display that comes from these words seem to be pretty raw. Dropping a hammer on your toe might evoke an f-bomb while forgetting to pick your kid up at school might call forth one of many synonyms for “poop.” There’s a surge of emotions brought forth in the moment strong enough for you to voice something.
Usually they’re associated with anger or pain, some sense of bitterness. Then there are creative cuss words that combine with “regular” words. For example, what would you call a donkey if it was wearing a hat?
We see a wider use of curse words in books and television, created universes like Harry Potter. “Voldemort” was a genuine curse word in their world. Potter wasn’t afraid to say his name, but the book made it clear what a social taboo it was to say “He-who-must-not-be-named.” He had other names too, like “You-know-who” or “The Dark Lord.” It’s later learned that Voldemort or his deathly hollows could track down anybody who said his name aloud. Harry said it anyways, didn’t he?
A side note, it’s funny how many people in the Harry Potter universe were so terrified of Voldemort, yet hadn’t realized how they outnumbered him and his “army.” The series of books wouldn’t be so popular if it ended with one person uttering his name in order to ambush him. Maybe I don’t grasp magic in this book as well as others…
There are other words within the world of magic that are forbidden, the “Unforgiveable Curses.” There’s Imperio, the Imperius Curse (the victim is left to do the bidding of the caster), Crucio, the Cruciatus Curse (basically torture for whoever receives this curse), and Avada Kedavra, the Killing Curse (do I need to explain this one?).
It wasn’t until it became absolutely necessary that Harry began to use these curses. Mad-Eye Moody displayed these curses in their defense against the dark arts classes. So clearly, it’s not just used by the bad guys. It’s also important to understand the stigma behind these words and how their population viewed those curses and words. “Voldemort” was probably worse than dropping an f-bomb, even.
That’s just another example of curse words, though more literally in the world of magic. It has an effect as much as anything else, good or bad. Is there a proper time to drop an f-bomb? Of course. These words exist for a reason, right?
The proper time and place, in my opinion, is whenever you feel like. I can’t say that I’m really offended by any of it. It gets to be a bit much when it becomes every other word, but still not offended. There are times in my own writing, my personal Facebook used as an example, where I will insert a curse word to emphasize something. For me personally, that’s the proper place and time.
Using these words to emphasize is how I prefer to use the word. Sometimes “ridiculous” needs something to emphasize just how overly ridiculous something is. These cuss words are just so flexible, so a REAL writer (in my opinion) doesn’t flinch at the use or using those words, especially when appropriate. Then again, I’m not a child, which is who censorship is supposed to be for anyways.
The important thing to remember about these words is what emotions are being conveyed. It can be used to express a whole world of emotions, from anger to love, frustration to relief, and anything and everything in between. The symbol behind these words is how you use them and how you view them.