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Mind Your Language

Mel O'Sullivan - May 16, 2021

A much younger male friend of mine recently sent me a link so I could listen to his favourite song. The link included a rather sweet note advising me that the song contained some swearing and coarse language. I responded that "I used to be in the Army - there won't be anything I haven't heard before."

The artist was a young african american woman in her twenties and she was clearly trying to be shocking and creative. Trying to push the boundaries of her R&B/Rap genre. I listened to the track hoping for new inspiration and was sadly disappointed. Frankly - I found her vocabulary of offensive words was fairly limited, and uninspiring.

I consider myself to be a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to swear words - an expert judge in matters of taste. I kind of pride myself a little bit in my broad vocabulary and creativity. I was raised on a beef cattle property and usually swearing and stock work go hand in hand. My father can be quite the poet when he gets up a good head of steam. When I bought my house I had a problem with the water supply to the house - causing a brand new neighbour to comment .

"I haven't met her, but by Christ she can swear!"

What can I say? I learned from the best!

My Degree studies focussed on Renaissance literature and in my mind nobody equals Shakespeare in the quality, variety and sheer poetic creativity of his cussin' & swearin'

"Thine face is not worth sunburning."

Henry V (Act Five, Scene Two)

"Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon."

Timon of Athens (Act Four, Scene Three)

"Methink'st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee."

All's Well That Ends Well (Act Two, Scene Three)

"Thou Art a three inch man!"

The Taming of the Shrew

And you should not mention Shakespeare and cursing without quoting the immortal Falstaff:

Prince Hal: "This sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horse-back breaker, this huge hill of flesh."

Falstaff: "S'Blood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat's-tongue, you bull-pizzle, you stock fish. Oh for breath to utter what is like thee! You tailor's-yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck!."

Prince Hal: Well, breathe awhile, and then to it again."   Henry IV, Part I

Of course we've all stood on a drill square just about cracking teeth trying not to laugh when our favourite Non Commissioned Officer unleashed a truly awe inspiring well of creativity on hallowed ground. 

We all know swearing is a part of military communications and language. It gets to be a habit of speech.

A habit that is generally not welcome in a civilian workplace. 

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