Monday, April 30, 2007

Freakin Flippin Bird Crap

A few days ago, I commented on Eve's blog making reference to my Mormon faith. She indicated that she had no idea I was a Mormon. I wasn't sure I believed her, because if you went to BYU, live in Orem, Utah, and have five children, it should be pretty clear to which church you claim allegiance. Then I realized the truth: Eve had no idea I was a Mormon because I don't talk like one, at least not very often.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are strongly encouraged to use clean and intelligent language. In other words, you shouldn't hear a lot of swearing from Mormons.

In an effort to follow the letter of the law, but not necessarily the spirit of the law, non-swearing swear words have been adopted in some Mormon subcultures. For example, crap, shister, shucks, and shoot, replace the crass term for poo. Terms such as flippin and freakin supplant the really bad word. Gosh, goll, and gawh prevent anyone from breaking one of the ten commandments (number three in case you haven't read Exodus 20 lately.) And while their use is sometimes justified since they can be found in the Bible, dang and heck are the generally more acceptable replacements for their Biblical counterparts.

And so if you come out to your driveway on a spring morning to find a bird left its mark on your freshly washed SUV, you could say, "Oh my freak! A flippin bird left crap on my gosh darn car! Dang it all to heck!"

And somehow, many people I know, would absolutely consider this to be "clean and intelligent" language.


  1. So basically, you sound like Eliot Reid. From Scrubs. FRICK!

    I think I may spin off of this piece, and talk about my own feelings on "curse" words. Unfortunately, it's pretty much the opposite of yours, but that doesn't mean I poo-poo your stance. Maybe when it's done you'll read it, and see what I mean. ;)

  2. Bart,

    Yes, "frick" is another goodie!

    I read your blog, and I respectfully disagree. I believe that while actions can speak louder than words, there is amazing power in words. If I didn't believe in the beauty and strength of the written word, I would have no reason to blog.

    I belive words have real meaning, and do make a difference. And while the original origin of a word, such as vulgar, may have its misgivings, that does negate the concept of the word.

    The seeming randomness of what is considered a swear word and what is not, is partly what I am attempting to poke fun at here: if "damn" is so bad, what makes me think "dang" is so much better. In reality, it isn't.

    You make a strong argument though. I would have liked to have you on my side of the high school debate team, that is for certain!


  3. " if "damn" is so bad, what makes me think "dang" is so much better. In reality, it isn't."

    I have to agree with you here, Deb. If the meaning is the same, wouldn't it reason that no matter what word we use, it would be just as crass?

    As to your being Mormon-I can be a little slow sometimes :)

    In my defence:Many of my friends have lots of kids (5,7,...), not everyone in Utah is Mormon (are they?)and I have no knowledge about BYU. :)

  4. You are the featured mother on this Monday. Thanks fro leaving me a note, so I could scope out you're blog :)

  5. Eve,

    You are right. Many people of various religions and cultures have large families. And, yes, not everyone in Utah is Mormon - not even close.

    Thanks for letting me poke fun at you, though. Not that you had much of a choice, but you were a good sport about it. It was either start my blog with you, or with D1 shouting "What the freak?" at the top of her lungs yesterday.

    Which, after she receieved a reprimand from DH and I, caused me to reflect on this topic in the first place.

  6. Cass,

    You are awesome! Thanks for the feature.

    Too cool.


  7. I figured you would disagree with me. So that's no problem, no need for the respectfully part, though it was appreciated.

    There's also other aspects to it, because I didn't wish to stir that particular pot, but this is something I did research a little bit while taking a History of the English Language course in my final year at college.

    But you're quite right in your damn/dang assessment. It's completely arbitrary and the "substitution" example is an excellent one to point out the screwiness of how we perceive language.

  8. Immediately upon my profession of faith, I quit swearing entirely. It was easier than I thought it would be, and I have little tolerance for it to this day. It wasn't because of what somebody at church said, but because of what a high school English teacher said. And I never found out whether he was a man of faith, but he told us:

    "People swear because they're not intelligent enough to use the words they actually mean."

    That substitution thing is funny, but I know people who do it all the time. I also know people who use coarse language, when they should know better.

  9. Lol, that's really funny! I came across your site for the first time today and coincidently am also a member of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. I went to BYU too!

    Anyway, I think your site is really cool, keep up the good work!

  10. G'day all,

    Bart-man, `Scrubs' is big in my house.

    Deborah, et al, do remember I live in Australia, a country where the phrase ``stupid old bastard'' is the highest praise one can earn.

    Enough said. Read my novel `Vegemite Vindaloo' for details!



  11. Better not head my way. I've been known to swear at Girls' Camp and in my YW lessons. (really)

    If it makes and difference, I never swore until after I got married. And I limit it to farm language, if you know what I mean.

  12. ANY difference....not AND difference. I can't spell when I'm tired.

  13. Bart -
    I could tell your blog was well resarched. Who knew a little bird crap could spawn such a thrilling debate!

  14. Craver,

    I've heard that quote before from my mother, but I always thought she made it up!

    Sometimes when I'm driving and about to say something like, "That flippin' idiot!" I do try to think, what would an intelligent person say instead? In the heated moment I usually can't come up with anything, so I go with, "That flippin idiot!"

    I'll try to say, "What a numskulled ignoramous," next time. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, you have to admit, it does sound more intelligent, doesn't it?

  15. Court,

    Finally someone who took my blog for what it was, a bit of humor, not a sermon. Though it has also sparked quite a few comments, and has really caused me to contemplate this theme, more than I ever intended.

    I enjoyed stopping by your blog as well. I'm working my way down the D-List - slowly, but I'll get there.

  16. Julie -
    Farm language - very funny! Way to draw the line and maintain your high standards! :)

  17. I'm definitely guilty of foul language. I try to use Spanish to camouflage it, but I'm not fooling anyone. My favorite faux swear word is "Dern!"...from my Southern roots. My mom said "Popeye!" a lot - she also wasn't fooling anyone.

  18. David,

    So sorry - I certainly did not mean to skip YOU!

    Leave it to the Australians to mix it up. Christmas in the summer, vegemite is a delicacy and now compliments that would instigate a bar brawl anywhere else!

    Where can I buy Vegemite Vindaloo in the United States? Oxford Books online wanted to charge me $35 USD for the slow boat shipping alone. Does that sound right? Though I'm sure it is worth every penny, I'm hoping for something more reasonable.



  19. Abi -

    Faux swear words huh? You must have been reading Bart's blog. Nothing like a French word to smooth something over.

    "Popeye" must be akin to my Grandma's "poppycock". I think I prefer "popeye".

  20. Hi Deborah,

    Some day I must tell you about how I wrote the definitive teetotallers' guide to the pubs of Alaska.

    Actually, it's archived somewhere on Terry Fletcher's Anglo-Indian Portal, so you might be able to find out thru the link to Terry's Portal on my own blog.

    Let me know if you have any success with that.

    $35 to ship the book? Sheeesh. Unfortunately I don't have a US publisher (yet). Here's an idea (he gloats belatedly) check with Dan of megabluewave blog fame - he bought the book last week and might be able to help with some information on shipping costs.

    Keep smiling


  21. Deb,
    Poke away-what goes around, comes around...heheheehe!

  22. Hi, Deborah,

    I know I'm late to this blog entry, but I was following around links today, and found it.

    I'm from a small, Southern Idaho town, that was basically dominated by the LDS Church. I'm not Mormon, but a vast majority of my childhood friends are, or were.

    Growing up there, most of the swearing I heard was Mormon Swearing. Even today I say things like, "Oh my Heck" and "Fetch". And I'm not at all afraid to throw around the "real" swear words.

    My wife, a Midwesterner who was not immersed in the LDS culture asked one day, after years of being married, just why I said, "Oh my Heck" and just what it means.

    That, and the movie Napoleon Dynamite, led me to open a section in my t-shirt store dedicated to Mormon swearing. Apparently, it's novel to those of us not familiar with it.

    I think no matter what the word is, it's swearing if you use it in a swearing manner. It's cracked me up since I was a teenager, and really started to understand what it was all my Mormon friends had been saying all along.

    At any rate, it cracks me up. Most things do.

    If you ever feel like checking out some examples of psuedo-swearing from and outsider on the inside, feel free to stop by and check out my t-shirts.

    Please understand that I'm not at all anti-Mormon, or anti-Mormon swearing.

    Have a great day.


  23. Shameless,

    Thaks for joining in on the discussion. Better late than never. Great website by the way. I learned some new words!



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