Language is a funny thing – it’s essentially what makes us human and defines every aspect of our external and even internal worlds. Without an understanding of what a thing is and how to signify that thing, we have no common ground between us. It’s nearly impossible to even imagine a world in which you have no language to identify things – no ability to even understand the colors or shapes of the things you see, the act of seeing itself or the feelings things evoke – all of which require language for us to understand. Given all that, it’s even more bizarre that we have words we generally refuse to use. Let’s check some out!
The F Word
Our most favorite and endearing swear word, the F word is as versatile as it is looked down on. And ironically nearly everyone says it, until we get in mixed company when we have the tacit understanding that we’re no longer supposed to swear. Like around kids, you never swear around kids even while you fully remember being a child yourself and how every kid on the schoolground swore like a stevedore all the time anyway. Kids know more swear words than you do, don’t even kid yourself.
The F word can be traced back over 500 years through history, so it’s been around the block more than someone who does it professionally. And while it may not have always been considered the most vulgar word of all time, that’s kind of where it is right now. But, and we can’t stress this enough, everyone says it.
Now you may be saying you don’t say it, your pastor doesn’t say it, your mom doesn’t say it, but enough of that silliness. Everyone knows it and it’s a perfectly fine word. And, as has often been noted, it’s so incredibly versatile that to pretend you don’t know it does a disservice to language itself. You can use it to express any emotion, you can use it as an insult or a compliment, it can be harsh or soft and it mixes with any and every word you can imagine. Bless the F word. Bless and use it often. Fuck yeah.
The C Word
Ever so slowly the C word has managed to rise up to challenge and even defeat the F word as the most heinous swear in the English language (unless you’re from the UK in which case you use it as freely as others would use “hey”). Despite this, the word is potentially even older than the F word though its origins are a bit mysterious – it was in use during the Middle Ages and you can find it in print from texts that are over 700 years old. But people still act like you’re punching them in it when you say it.
Less versatile than the F word, but still with plenty of flexibility, the reason we need to embrace the C word is, first and foremost, it’s hilarious. Due to its unsavory reputation, whenever someone does deign to use it, it’s a breath of fresh air. And why not use it? In its most oft used form, it’s vulgar slang for female genitalia, but how is it worse than simply saying vagina? Two words that mean the same thing but one with a worse reputation. But if no one told you the reputation of the C word you’d just assume it was interchangeable because the word itself has no power now does it? No.
In a world where we have the Vagina Monologues, Fleshlights, Vajazzling, Brazilian waxing and Coco, we can handle the C word on a more regular basis.
The R Word
The most controversial so far, the R word incites rage and violence in those who oppose it. Just so we’re all on the same page, we mean retard.
Long has Holy Taco supported use of the word retard and we’ll tell you why – it’s not what you think it is. This is a chicken and the egg argument and both are getting wrongfully treated thanks to political correctness. To start with, retard as a word comes from the 15th century when it meant to make something slow or delay it. A dam retards the movement of water.
Fast forward to the late 1800’s and it gained favor as a word used to describe people with mental disabilities. But it wasn’t a pejorative term, it was used clinically because someone mentally retarded was said to have suffered a mental slowing or delay. It was, for all intents and purposes, an accurate description of someone with a mental disability.
Fast forward again to the 70’s when retard as a derogatory slang word really took off. Its use? To insult someone you felt was stupid.
Now here’s the thing – we would accept the R word as offensive if you were actually using it maliciously against someone who suffers a genuine mental disability. But in its current usage, it’s the same as calling someone stupid or an idiot which, while insulting, is the point. Insults are meant to be offensive. And to say that its use is offensive to people with mental disabilities even if it’s not directed at them is specious and does a disservice to our language. It’s retarded.
The N Word
You knew this was coming, so let’s go. How can we justify use of the N word and am I actually going to type it in this article? No, I won’t type it because while I support ending the stigma, it’s the sort of thing people need to discuss and think about. Plus my bosses might kill me.
How do you justify using the N word? Easy – it has too much power. Every time you say “N word” instead of the word itself, you give an ignorant racist a leg up. Because when he uses that word, he crosses a line you won’t. He jumps ahead of you, not in class or tact or intelligence, but in a way that emboldens his foolish purposes. Just imagine for a moment if the N word meant a kind of pie. It had never meant anything other than a pie. Hell, just imagine the word actually is “pie.” Now say pie. Did anyone gasp? Anyone look shocked or angry? Do you feel flushed? Maybe if you really like pie. Or they hate pie, but by and large the word pie carries no weight. Because we didn’t give it any. If we take away the weight of the N word, then any time a racist tries to denigrate and degrade a person, they have lost that tiny bit of power. They may still be hateful and ignorant and say hateful and ignorant things but we, as a society, have not given them access to a great taboo thing that the rest of us fear. Because a racist who would use the word in a hateful context hasn’t earned that right and doesn’t deserve to have it given to them on a silver platter.
So go outside and drop some F bombs. Call the new, awful reality TV show an R word. Share the C word with family. And, you know, ask a black friend what they think of the N word in the most polite way you can think of. That one’s going to take some time.