What makes a bad word bad ? There is something that gives those words such an ‘oomph’ when used, like using a highlighter upon a sentence to bring to more emphasis. There’s a difference between ” She was blocking up the whole traffic in the aisle” and “She was blocking up the whole g0d@mn traffic in the aisle”. ( Catcher in the Rye, pg 87). Heck, most of Holden’s thoughts are littered with swear words such as “D@mn”, “h3ll” and “God@m” which makes him seem like he’s done with the whole world. Even though it’s easy to describe how swear words can change the tone of a piece of literature, speech, and etc, it’s harder to explain what makes a bad word bad. According to Wikipedia, originally ” Profanity refers to offensive words or religious words, used in a way that shows you do not respect God or holy things or behavior showing similar disrespect.” While that applies to some swear words, it doesn’t apply to all of them. In the video “Why are Bad words Bad?” by Vsauce, Michael Stevens ( the host of the show) mentioned a man named Steven Pinker who categorized profanity into five categories. The first category is “Abusive swearing” in which the swear words are created or use with the intent to hurt others. The second category is ” Emphatic swearing” in which a very taboo word you wouldn’t usually use becomes practical in expressing your emotions despite social norms. The third category is “Dysphemism swearing” in which you use a certain swear word instead of its less rude synonyms because not only does it refer to the item we are speaking about, it gives off a sense of how we feel about the object. The fourth category is ” Idiomatic swearing” in which there is noting being emphasis and instead it is a ‘casual’ kind of swearing. The fifth category is “Cathartic swearing.” in which swearing gives us a sense of relief from what we are experiencing such as physical pain . I feel that these categories are true for all five can be seen when observing social interactions between people.The most common form of swearing I tend to hear most in class is idiomatic swearing and that itself is not that bad despite the word “class” and “swearing” being seen together. In my opinion, Idiomatic swearing is the mildest form of swearing seeing as the usage of itself is not meant to hurt or offend anyone. Sure people might get irked for hearing profanity be toss around like salad, but idiomatic swearing itself is not meant to use to irk people. For “Catcher in the Rye” I think Holden uses emphatic swearing the most for he tends to swear when he’s trying to express his feelings about someone or something which happens a lot in the book.He also has some tendencies to fall into abusive swearing especially when interacting with people who dislike. Holden might even been using a bit of idiomatic swearing to Phoebe (who mind you didn’t appreciate it).
If you’re interested in watching the video I mention, here we go :
He goes into much further detail about bad words then I did, going into the history of how words become classified into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and more.