My mother didn’t hold much with cussin’.
In fact the farthest down the trail of depraved speech she would venture was to utter the occasional ‘damn’ or ‘hell’, or in extreme cases ‘bloody’.
My dad was pretty much the same. Once when they were visiting we were taking a walk around our large front yard. I kept chickens at the time, and occasionally they got out of the pen. “Watch out for chickenshit underfoot.” I cautioned him.
“Well,” he said, “I don’t think you needed to call it that. You could’ve just called it manure.”
Now, in my case, I can confess to just being a bit of a potty-mouth on occasion. Occasion being most times, if I am exasperated or irritated. To me a well-aimed curse tends to clean out the emotional pipes and get things going again.
Things have changed since my youth. The significant change arises from the fact that females now curse like stevedores. In a university linguistics class a young coed made an oral presentation on the use of the word ‘fuck’ in literature, most notably in the writings of Joyce and DH Lawrence. When she came to use the word in examples some other students, males included, were rendered uncomfortable. It was alien for nice girts to say ‘fuck’. Yet now it is terribly normal.
I suppose the taboo arose because in its most basic sense fuck is a naughty word for sexual intercourse and nice girls did not talk about screwing in mixed company even if they actually indulged in the described act. And yes, back then even some nice girls did.
It’s a powerful word and it is utilitarian. Reminds me of the old RAF legend of how versatile fuck is, as in the phrase used when a bit of aircraft equipment was not doing what it should: “Fuck the fucking fucker the fucking fucker’s fucked.” Pretty much covers the parts of speech, it does.
My fear about the overuse of the word is that it is slowly being rendered neutral. Don’t be surprised if the vicar comes to call and utters the copulatory vulgarity in conversation.
So I say, even though I use it unabashedly, ‘fuck’ should remain a vulgarity.