Cussin’ cousins

Swearing is something I grew up with. It was part of the language. Even now, when I get instantly riled, I occasionally hear one of those words coming out of my mouth before I have the good sense to know that it's coming and stop, although I have greatly minimized this tendency by using other words. My preferred F word is now “flange.”

In every culture, swear words often have religious underpinnings. Example: OMG. And yet we don't even think of such words or phrases as affronts to the almighty. But, then again, a substantial portion of Americans don't think very much about the almighty.

Recent articles in two Canadian newspapers, the Montreal Gazette and the National Post, reflect the particularly heavy use of religion-oriented swear words in the Quebec version of the French language, all taken from elements of Catholic worship. This trend grew in the early 1960s when massive numbers of Quebecers abandoned the Catholic Church. Those newly unreligious, seeing Catholicism as the source of many of their societal problems, chose to insult the church by twisting its own words for tabernacle, chalice and communion wafer (among many others) into words of damning or abuse.

Other English words with religious undertones are slurs. For example: Hocus-pocus and the song “Hokey Pokey” are insults to the Catholic faith, since they refer to the words and motions in the Latin Mass: “Hoc est corpus meum” (“This is my body” from the words of consecration of the Eucharist).

I can't remember a time when those around me didn't take the Lord's name in vain, and I'm in my late 60s. From my visits to the Midwest I know that such language is still offensive in some parts of the country

One Response to “Cussin’ cousins”

  1. Tiffany McCallen

    Fascinating! I’ll remember that at the next wedding reception I attend and we’re “shaking all about!”


Leave a Reply