Friday, May 23, 2008

Potty mouth

"Potty mouth" has to be amongst my least favourite phrases. Why? Because using a childish word for an adult activity attempts to diminish and so control it.

It's also inaccurate: most adult swear words that I know are related to sex or religion with a much smaller number of scatological words.

And it's judgemental. No one wants to be told that they have a "potty mouth".

This is why I like to use the phrase strong language instead. In my earlier post on the subject I said that I don't like the idea of offending people but with so many different cultures it's probably impossible to avoid offending someone.

There aren't many strong words I'm not willing to use but they have a shock value and need to be used judiciously.

I don't think Four Weddings and a Funeral would be so funny if it started with Hugh Grant saying, "Heck, heck, heck, heck, heck, heck, heck, heckity heck."

I'm also reminded of Thomas Bowdler who gave us the word "bowdlerise". I would not like to be remembered for having changed Lady Macbeth's "Out, damned spot!" to "Out, crimson spot!" I think I'd rather be remembered as foul-mouthed. But don't call me a potty mouth, please.


Kiersten White said...

I will never call you a potty mouth, I promise. I was attempting to lighten the mood, and I'm sorry that I used a phrase you hate! Considering the discussion though, oddly fitting ; )

fairyhedgehog said...

I must be misremembering the discussion. I thought it was about the word "fuck" which doesn't have much to do with a potty.

Anyway, thank you for visiting my blog. (I typed "bog" the first time and wondered if it was a Freudian slip.)

Robin S. said...

Bog - blog - hey Ma'am, I think that's a helluva good Freudian slip you've got there!

Guess who uses 'potty mouth' when talking about my language skills, or lack of thereof? EE.

I think obscenities have a great and powerful use - I agree- they constitute a part of strong language, and used purposefully and occasionally, they matter. They make the reader or listener take notice.

Like your examples quite a bit! Out, crimosn spot- what a wussy she'd have been if she'd said that, huh?!

I don't like being labelled clean or dirty for choosing to speak the way I occasionally speak - and write. The thing is, I don't agree with the label.

I like the way you put it.

fairyhedgehog said...

Hi Robin,

Thanks for your comments.

I didn't know it was EE who started using the phrase "potty mouth" in his blog. I know he's the great man himself but I still don't like the phrase. Unless he's using it ironically of course.

(EE, if you ever read this, I love your blog but I don't agree with you on this.)

Maybe I should form a pressure group: Fighting Universal Censorship Campaign perhaps. I wonder if there's a word for "Campaign" that begins with a "K"?

Robin S. said...

Yep - I think we should mess with EE the next time he mentions it.

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