Tuesday, 22 November 2011

"I am very cross" - the language of parenting

My first lesson in swearing came when I started secondary school and a kindhearted classmate took me aside for a chat about swearing. "We don't say bloody hell here" she said, "we say fucking hell." Fucking hell and variants thereof served me pretty well for several years after that.

My second lesson in swearing came a few years ago when a friend far cooler than I will ever be remarked that she found "get fucked" to be a far more effective phrase than "fuck off". I tried it many times and she is absolutely right on this one.

And now I am a parent I have found something else out about swearing. It's not the fucking hells or the fuck offs or the get fuckeds that make the biggest impact, it's the language of parenting. "I am," I told the doctor who messed something up, "very cross." He visibly shrivelled. "I'm disappointed" I told the hotel manager when someone barged into our room at 3am and he immediately refunded our whole stay. I am looking forward to telling the next person I have to tell off that "it is more in sorrow than in anger." After that I intend to call someone a wally and someone a clot. Watch them quake.

1 comment:

  1. Great post and a fascinating issue. I supposed the hard stuff gets devalued through overuse.