May 02, 2004

Appropriate Language

I use curse words all the time. Don't blame my mother. Partially, its a professional habit. All litagators swear and do so way too much. Partially, I spent a summer in China when I was 18 and when no one can understand what you saying on the street, the societal control over your language just disappears and you begin to express yourself in ways that are limited only by your imagination. That was a pretty salty time. Anyway, it took years before I could get over that kind of freedom. I'm better now.

Except when driving. Which leads me to the thought I've been kicking around. Maybe there is no such thing as bad language, maybe there is only language that is appropriate to a situation and inappropriate but no word is intrinsically bad. Even if I can't envision a situation in which certain racial epithets are ever appropriate doesn't mean I have it wrong here, since my imagination is limited. This, anyway, is what I am trying to teach my kids. Well, my daughter since the boy doesn't speak yet.

When we moved out to the suburbs, my daughter spent a lot of time with just me in the car because my wife was put on bed rest with the second pregnancy. So she heard a lot of language that maybe was not appropriate for her situation.

We were all in the car together, backing out of the driveway to take my daughter to the doctor for her two year check up when she said, "shit, fuck". Everyone in the car looked at me. Not her, me. So I told her, "Honey, those are daddy's car words and he only uses those while he's driving." "You can't use them until you are driving". Not bad words, just words that are inappropriate for a then 2 year old.

I'm told I also use those words when reading the NY Times and I've been asked to stop reading that paper around her.

Posted by Random Penseur at May 2, 2004 07:04 AM
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