Sunday, 13 January 2013

From debunkingchristianity  1st December 2012
Hi Bernie,
                     Steven Pinker has shared some clever ideas about swearing in his book, " The stuff of thought ", chapter 7,  " The seven words you can't say on television ". He starts, " Freedom of speech is a foundation of democracy, because without it citizens can't share their observations on folly and injustice....However the U.S. supreme court recognizes 5  kinds of unprotected speech; Fraud and libel are not protected...advocacy of imminent lawless behaviour and " fighting words " are also not protected....The fifth category  -obscenity - seems to defy justification  "
    I think Pinker sort of just accepts swearing is part of life and isn't really a problem in moderation. p370, " If an overuse of taboo words, whether by design or laziness, blunts their emotional edge, it will have deprived us of a linguistic instrument that we sometimes sorely need "
p371 Pinker quotes Philip Larkin's " This Be the verse " of 1974 :
           They fuck you up, your mum and dad
           They may not mean to , but they do
           They fill you with the faults they had
            And add some extra, just for you
  I think an alternative to obscene language is to speak of your emotions, " It makes me livid, how annoying, that's frustrating, it's worrying, I feel upset about that "
Or to be specific about the idea or action in question, " I find that point of view sickening ", " I once supported an idea that i am now embarrassed by "
  However "F off" is so much quicker and easier to say. But then the recipient could transpose it into the long hand that probably would have been said if the speaker had taken the time : " Sorry, not interested, don't want to hear any more of that point of view because I find it offensive / boring / bugging"
I wrote an more ideas about this at expressingemotions-

Saturday, 13 August 2011

More interesting phrases

I find that idea abhorent
I find that idea repugnant
I can't understand how you aren't horrified at the waste that is going on.
I can't understand how he can be content to sit with the car engine idling for minutes. It really irritates me to think of the needless pollution of the air and waste of money, plus it doesn't seem to do any good. Is it a habit? Do you get something from hearing the purr of the engine? I've pointed out the reasons why you should switch off and that it bugs me that you don't, I'm not going to nag you about it. I just find your attitude exasperating.

Why does he used 5 paper towels when one would do? That irritates me. Do you not think about what you are doing? Do you not ask if it is necessary? Reduce, reuse, recycle?

Why do people do things that I would never dream of doing? Why has that person just dropped an empty can and paper bags out of their car onto the road? They want to keep their car tidy. Do they think they are providing employment for the street cleaners? Why don't they put the rubbish in the bin? I feel like going over to them and telling them that they should put it in the bin. People should make an effort and not be lazy. Somebody need to tell them that that behaviour is unacceptable.

What would you say to the people who took part in the rioting? I would say that they should have been trying to look after their C.V.  They should have been trying to preserve their good reputation. They should try to comply with the U.K 2011 law and to live with it. They should try to be caring and not hurt anyone. They should be considerate, think about how their actions affect other. They should think of the Golden rule and treat others as they want to be treated by others. They should try to be caring, try to take care of the world, try to be loving, try to avoid wastage and unnecessary breakage. How do you feel about seeing this destruction. Are you not appalled by the waste? Do you not feel sorry for those who have lost their homes and businesses? Do you not feel for the suffering of others, Do you not feel like trying to prevent this and disuade people from doing this? 
   Instead of doing this you should go and do something constructive instead, anything that is not destructive, anything that is within the law, read books, write, listen to music, watch film, play sport, make love, 

Friday, 29 July 2011


 The key point is to express your emotions and feelings about what has happened, swearing  and name calling is a more obscure way of doing it but I guess people still get the drift. The odd bit of swearing for humour or when really angry probably doesn't do any harm. Maybe sometimes you don't want to be too sugary sweet.

The aim is to expand your vocabulary, and not become obsessed about swearwords. In some ways swear words  don't matter. However if you want to move in a direction then I wonder if you need to rate some forms of expression as better and others as worse.

Swearing isn't a big deal, it depends on whose company you are in. If you have a boss who disapproves of swearing then it is handy to be good at not swearing. If your workmates swear like troopers then i guess it is handy to be able to talk the talk.

   I think  a helpful focus is to comment on the specific action / idea in terms of your emotions.
                                            Be subjective, aim for accuracy, correctness, truth
                                  Describe what physically happened and your opinion about it

                         OH NO                                                            OH YES
   I didn't want that to happen, I wish it hadn't        I wanted that to happen, I wish it would
      I'm displeased that it happened                       I'm pleased that it happened
  I strongly disapprove of that                               I strongly approve of that
 I think you should not / must not do that            I think you should do that/ must do that
 I have negative emotions /feelings about that      I have positive emotions / feelings about
I'm  displeased, angry, annoyed, irritated,          I'm pleased, happy, delighted,
 furious, exasperated, infuriated, astonished       thrilled, amused, ecstatic about it,
dismayed, distressed, puzzled, perplexed                      amazed, impressed
terrified, depressed, disallusioned, fuming                    (in awe of, marvel at )
raging, seeing red, out of my dial about that

 I love / like this... about that...                                            I hate / loathe this... about that..

   Oh no, its broken/ burnt / lost / ruined, how annoying,  I didn't want that to happen
   Oh yes, its fixed, found, repaired, I'm delighted, I'm relieved about that.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Are you the slave or the master of what you say ?

Are you the master or the slave of swear words ? Can you switch to the alternatives at will ?
 Do you use all the notes on the piano or are you limited to five ?
Is your speech garden over run with weeds like couch with only a few cultivated plants ?
Has your speech garden got a wide variety of plants and some weeds but nothing to worry about ?
 Sometimes name calling, abuse of metaphor, swearing could get you into trouble, maybe its main role is in jest, as banter with people who you think are like minded about it.
   Sometimes swearing could displace a much more important phrase, like "Watch out", "Careful", "Stop", " Help", "Slow down" , " Duck", "Don't"
  However you could get so distracted by trying not to swear that you aren't concentrating on the main tasks for your job. It might be better to not think much about it

  Sometimes swear words displace adverbs like 'very, extremely, really, absolutely, totally, impressively'
  e.g That was f'ing terrible  ---- That was really terrible
         Shut the f up ------------- Shut your mouth up---Please don't say that, it bugs me
                                                   Zip it-----------------Quiet please
                                                                                     If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing
                                                  Knowing when to say nothing is an important part of speaking
                                                  Saying, 'I don't know' is a valuable thing to say when you don't know
  What the f are you doing-------I'm puzzled by what you are doing,
                                                 I'm annoyed by what you are doing, I'm perplexed, I don't like the look of it
                                                 I'm astonished, preturbed, upset by what you are doing
Who the f did that ?-----------Who dares to incite my wrath, who is it that does not fear my fury
                                               [Ok rather melodramatic], gonnae gee it a break, quit it

Sacred and Profane

There are two systems of speaking, one  lower resolution, one higher resolution
Everybody uses a mix of both.It is like painting, sometimes people start by sloshing on some background colour with broad brushes, "I like that music / person", then go on to clarify and add detail, "Well in general terms and here is something I especially like about it, but here is something I loathe about it "

  I love that song, well I love the tune but actually I think the lyrics are rubbish, well I suppose most of the lyrics are ok but there are one or two ideas in there that I strongly disagree with, but there are also a few ideas that I find uplifting. Actually it is really the intro of the tune that I like and after that it bores me.There are somethings that I like about it and somethings that I dislike about it.

I think it is better to speak in relative, subjective terms, 'I loved it', 'I enjoyed it', 'I found it so uplifting', 'It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up' or more negatively, 'I loathed it', 'It is torturing me', 'It grates on me', ' I can't stand it', 'I found it unbearable', 'Didn't like it'
  It is poorer to speak in objective terms for things that are subjective matters of taste, ' That is good', ' That was rubbish, bad, shit'. However as long as you are aware that when people say, 'That is shit' they mean, 'I didn't enjoy it'. It isn't a problem. The thing that interests me is to pit each system against each other.
   When I was a teenager I worried too much about not swearing, I made it into too big an issue. Now that I have identified what I think should be the emphasis of thinking in terms of your emotions and have made that my core position, I don't worry about swearing. I'm not so much trying to avoid swearing as trying to speak about how I feel about things.  As a teenager I was afraid of becoming someone who would swear all the time. At the time I thought there was a point to not using 'Gods' name in vain but I felt that saying, 'Oh sugar' wasn't the answer either. Now I can admit that the God idea causes people a lot of worry, fear and grief and so it is maybe appropriate that people say 'Oh God' when they are displeased about something.. Similarly the riddles attributed to Jesus would make anyone tear their hair out if you tried to make sense of them. Trying to make a coherent message out of the Bible is like trying to build a house of cards upside down. Once you accept that the Bible writings are just human guesswork then you can just pick out the minority of points that have some semblance of sense. But anyway with a Jesus that some say is able to save everyone but only chooses a few, isn't it fitting to use the name as a swear word ?
   If you look for sense , meaning, appropriateness, what is fitting, then swear words are sometimes apt
   It is just a pissing shower
   My bloody finger is bloody broken
   F'ing great sex. You are f'ing beautiful ( Fabulously? Flaming- intense love, intensely hot & exciting)
   Bustard, I've missed the bus
   I'm f'ing fuming ( Fizzing ? Flaming ? )
   Damn, the river has burst it's banks
   S**t, the toilet won't flush
   Get that flaming fire out
   Fie - contempt, disgust, irony, shame , impatience

Jesus Christ, what on earth were you trying to say ?

The authors of the New Testament had Jesus say, " Do not judge, do not condemn, do not call nasty names like fool ",  They attributed the idea of ,' The spiritual man judges everything' to Paul.
  Probably all these ideas were around long before New testament times. Does the idea 'judge everything' contradict the idea 'Do not judge' ? I think that the idea, 'Do not judge anything' is impossible, unworkable and meaningless. The only meaning that I can find in these ideas is that you should 'Be specific and judge the action / concept  not the whole person' . A person is a complex creature who does lots of stuff. You can only take one point at a time otherwise it just becomes so inaccurate, generalised and exaggerated as to be false.
  Inaccuracy is brother to the lie.
  Greatness lies in the detail.
  It is possible to assess each activity on many different criteria
  It is possible to do a health and safety assessment on each activity.
  It is possible to assess each action / idea in terms of your emotions / feelings
  It is possible to assess the action / idea in terms of its economic consequencies / effects.

  Do not condemn people. Yesterdays behaviour does not have to define what they or I will do today.
 To condemn with name calling is to point at what has been done, maybe it reinforces the undesirable behaviour. My experience is that voices in the church judge & condemn non church goers with a generalised, 'They are bad, wrong, atheists, unbelievers, sinners, disobedient, fools' which is to do the very thing Jesus is said to have advised against [ mind you this is common language of any group against an opposing group, tribal fundamentalism ]. Maybe the church should have listened to the non church goers to see if they had any valid reasons why ideas in christianity aren't true. Maybe we should recognise that people are more the same than different. Most people go out and try to earn an honest penny to make it through another day.
  It is just too easy to slip into vague generalisations

The opposite is to try to point to the good that you think should be done.

  I'm shocked that you drove in such a reckless manner, there was no need for it, you should have complied with the speed limits, experts have assessed that stretch of road and advised on a maximum safe speed, I agree with them about that. Do you not realise what could have happened and the consequencies it would have had on your life and the people you might have injured.
  In contrast to, ' You idiot, your driving is terrible, you should be banned '
  In contrast to, ' You f'ing twit, your f'ing driving is shit, you should be f'ing banned, I hate you, f'ing nutter'
However all three are essentially correct and in agreement that the driving was dangerous.
  In contrast to, ' I can go as fast as I like, I can drive well, I think that even if I drive at 60 mph in a 30 limit I will be able to do so safely without hitting anything, I'm that good'. I wouldn't fault the language but the error is in the idea that driving at 60mph can be defined ' driving well' it isn't, it is 'driving dangerously'. However police or ambulance sometimes drives at 60 in a 30 in an emergency but they are trained and maybe there would be situations that they wouldn't do it- children on the pavement?

  Anyway, Just supposing that what Jesus really meant was, ' Be specific and comment on the individual action / idea in terms of you emotions, i.e put your comments in a subjective form' well the people who wrote the New Testament had neither Jesus nor any apostles comply with this maxim. They wrote Jesus as saying of others, 'You fool', 'You Vipers', 'You empty graves'. Also the Bible text often breaks this rule, so often that you would be hard pressed to claim it complies with it. For example you have kings being described with the condemnation 'Evil' or equally obscurely ' Good'. If I had been writing it I would have listed the commands that the King had made and listed the outcome / effects of those commands. He gave the order to withhold food from that clan and they all starved to death. He should have been caring and worked for the well being of all people, brotherhood of man etc. Was his action at all warranted. Was the clan a group of people bent on murder, rape and pillage? Was it a sort of siege thing where they refused to accept terms for peace. What was the better side? Could a peace deal have been reached, they just couldn't think of it at the time. Most times the reasonable thing to hope for is a negotiated settlement where war is avoided, one where a sustainable future for each side is agreed.

   If you look at the book of Revelation, you will see that the author has Jesus speak in a very poor way. You wouldn't employ him. In terms of emotional literacy the characters in Revelation would be given an 'F' -failed.
  Jesus should have been made to say, ' These are the things I wanted you to do, points 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5. I'm delighted you achieved points 1, 5, I can see we will need to work on the rest but we'll get there.
  The way that Jesus and John are made to speak in Revelation completely fails to adhere to any sensible rule or meaning that you could take from the gospels. Jesus is made to speak in a tyrannous and thuggish way.

  The Bible is a record of the guesses that people have made.
  The Bible is the stories that people have made up to try to explain why the world is the way they saw it.

If you look at the Book of James, it doesn't even manage to define what the ideal way of speaking or thinking is. It doesn't clarify or advance on what 'Jesus' or 'Paul' meant.
I propose that I have offered an ideal form of speech, a simple maxim that it would be possible to make all thoughts fit. You could tweak all expression to comply with this principle. However I conclude that if you did so it wouldn't make that much difference. It is just a superficial vanity. The big issues are finding solutions to the practical issues in life like supplying enough clean water, food, clothes, shelter, health care, population control, entertainment to everyone.

Emotional literacy is an interpretative framework, not a rule to ban words

I think if my core focus is on a subjective way of speaking about things in terms of my emotions then I feel happier. I'm more pleased with the result.

Emotional literacy is an interpretative framework, it is not a rule which bans swearing or cursing or name calling.
Nothing is ruled out. It is just that the core focus is on how you feel about the matter in question and that everything gets interpreted in that way. This is just what happens when you ask, 'What did I / they mean ? How would I put that into plain english'

 If someone speaks to me in a string of swearing and name calling. I'm going to ask myself, 'What did they really mean by that' and it is going to come out something like, "I'm furious that you did / said that and I don't want you see / hear you doing it again "
  If you say to me, 'You fool ' I will interpret that as , "You are really annoyed that I have done this or that I say I intend to do it and you hope I won't". I will say to my friends, 'He was really annoyed that I did that / he was annoyed that I intended to do it'.  He thinks my plans will fail but I think there are somethings that he hasn't realised about my way, I can see why he is worried and upset but once I explain everything to him I think he will see the sense of doing it my way. It is a kinder, more caring interpretation.
   Or do you end up going down the route of, 'They called me a 'fool', well there is a grain of truth to that, maybe they are right'. Don't write yourself off / condemn  yourself as a 'fool'. I have a catalogue of mistakes behind me but I am now going to fill a catalogue of successes

  It is easy in moments of surprised peak anger to say random curses, swear words, name calling even though you didn't plan on saying such things, even though you do not approve of them, even though you maybe had practiced over and over saying a more helpful thing. It isn't a big deal. It is a mistake to make it into a big deal.

The main thing is to be good at remembering the necessary information, to be good at problem solving, to be good at getting your job done, to be good at following protocol, to succeed in getting things to work.

Getting hung up on not swearing is a mistake, it is an irrelevant distraction.