Sunday, December 16, 2007

We've often heard there's a difference between "swear" and "cuss." We're too lazy to validate this, but apparently "swear" words are blasphemous -- damn, hell, goddammit -- whereas "cuss" words are everything else -- piss, shit, fuck, cunt, fart, asshole, etc.

These words are used with such frequency as to render their impact trivial--so the argument goes; if that's the case, when one refrains from using them, their impact can be quite effective. For example, vulgar words spoken by the Pope (who, presumably doesn't maintain a foul mouth) would shock many people; the same words slurred by a drunken Irish sailor would presumably not. With some creativity, however, such words can be very expressive:

  • Cursing/swearing only around a certain person/persons can be understood as a sign of solidarity. (However, it's not recommended you try this with religious authorities, i.e. "Fuck me father, for I have sinned";
  • Subtly masking the words vastly elevates their sophistication. For example Sam and Max: Surfin' the Highway boasts the creative, fake review "holy $#!+": Dollar sign=S; octothorpe=H; Exclamation point=I; Plus sign=T;
  • Overkill can be very humorous.