Monday, 1 July 2013

Minced Oath

"Minced Oath" n. a euphemistic expression formed by misspelling, mispronouncing, or replacing a part of a profane, blasphemous, or taboo term to reduce the original term's objectionable characteristics.
I remember being about 9 or 10 years old when I first got in trouble for swearing. Truth be told, I didn't even really know I was swearing. The situation was similar to the moment I realized ASAP stood for "As Soon As Possible"– I'd just learned that "peed off" was a euphemism for another term, and I wanted to show off my new knowledge. As I remember, we were eating dinner at the table, and the scene played out something like this:

Dad (discussing an elaborate Halloween display he'd been designing for months):
"I've strung the cable from the chimney to the tree, and the motion detector is in the bushes. The witch should cackle and fly from one end of the yard, to the other, whenever a kid steps onto the driveway!"

"Can you imagine if you'd gone to all this effort and she didn't even work? You'd be so pissed off!"


Evidently, however my Father responded was inadequately scarring, as many years later, I grew into a bit of a sailor-mouth. You could blame my love of Tarantino movies, or the many teenage years I spent working in the service industry, but one way or another, swearing became commonplace for me. 

Boyfriend swears a lot too. It doesn't bother me at all, but last night he issued a bit of a challenge. He's decided the two of us should make an effort to stop swearing. Completely. I'm not sure if there was any particular motivation – it could be because our best friends are going to have a baby in November and he doesn't want to slip up around it, or it could just be because we swear a lot and there's really no need to. Whatever the reason, here are the terms:
  • Neither Boyfriend, nor I, can swear, unless it's part of a contextually-relevant, direct quote for which we identify the speaker beforehand.
  • As punishment for any infractions of the above rule:
    • Boyfriend must perform 20 Strict-form Push-Ups for every swear-word
    • I must perform 5 Push-Ups for every swear-word
  • Punishment must be performed immediately following any infractions, regardless of our location or attire.
That's it! If you're wondering why Boyfriend has to do more Push-Ups than me, it's because Boyfriend is a professional athlete with crazy Hulk-strength, whereas I'm a pathetic weakling, presently incapable of performing a single Push-Up in anything resembling proper form. 
If I'm totally ripped in a few weeks, you'll know my sailor-mouth prevailed.

We could've done the "Swear Jar" thing, since we already have a travel jar which we're using to save for a trip to Scotland. However, if we made the punishment monetary, with the mindset that we'd be putting the money towards something we both wanted, the results probably would have looked like that old Bud Light Superbowl commercial:

I figured, if I'm going to succeed at all in this, I'll need some sort of swearing alternatives, or "Minced Oaths" to satiate my desire to curse. While "dang-it" and "effing" would technically work, they just don't feel angry enough to suffice. I'm thinking I'll take my inspiration from the recent movie adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox. If you haven't seen it, it's a kids movie where they use "cuss" in place of all profanities, like so:
I love the way they did this. Plus "cuss" still has that nice hard consonant sound that makes real profanities satisfying.  If anyone has any other clever curse alternatives, I'm all ears!

P.S. Happy Canada Day, everybody!

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