When is swearing considered swearing? Have we, by the overuse of expressions, diminished the impact of certain words and phrases? Certain words and expressions have been found to be so offensive by some cultures or groups, that it had been forbidden by law to utter these. What if the full history behind the expression uttered, is not understood? Are we less guilty of the offence of swearing; even if it was done unintentionally?
When studying one of the indigenous languages, Xhosa, of southern Africa, I was surprised (and pleased) to learn that this language does not contain one single swearword. If they wished to gravely insult you, they would call the honor of your ancestors into question.
Here are two examples of phrases which you might have used at some stage or other, but which are, after examination, blasphemous: *
Gor-blimey = God blind me!
gosh = By God
In my poem, Black Diamonds, I had to include a disclaimer to explain the different applications of the name of the poem, in order not to offend a certain group of people. How far do we need to mind our “P’s & Q’s” when we write poetry? Or, is it a matter of being selective i s f as our audience is concerned, i e where and with whom we share our thoughts and our scribbling?
partying, conniving, dealing
cities, nightclubs, mines, compounds
sparkling, dazzling, wooing
© 2012 Suzette Crous
*compound: 1. enclosure where mine workers are
2. substance consisting of two or more
elements chemically united
in fixed proportions
Black Diamonds is a collective term that is used pejoratively in South Africa to refer to members of the new black middle class. It is, also, the name of a Soweto (South Africa) based biker club, BLAQUE DIAMONDS MOTORCYCLE CLUB, supported by professional people, eg bankers and business men. Black Diamond is, also, the name of a prestigious international credit card investment scheme.
*The New Oxford Illustrated Dictionary