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Swearing in college: Acceptable or no?

March 6, 2019

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Swearing in college: Acceptable or no?

Graphic by Kaitlyn Biri

Graphic by Kaitlyn Biri

Graphic by Kaitlyn Biri

Graphic by Kaitlyn Biri

Curse words, in some form, have existed since the conception of language.

Most people let one slip now and again, but people have many different opinions on swear words. Some like to curse like a drunken sailor, while others only let the words slip in anger or pain. It can be hard to predicate how a person will react to certain words.

In many ways, it is best to just not use swear words. Though, where is the fun in that?

Swear words are just words, at their core. It is the meaning, vitriol and use that offends people.

The history of swears in English is a curious one. After the Norman invasion of England, French became the primary language used by the aristocracy and nobility. English was reserved for the peasantry.

French comes from Latin roots, while English comes from Germanic roots.

Swear words are just the words in English that stem from the Germanic roots. S*** and defecation mean the same thing. Defecation is seen as a more proper word, and that is due to its Latin roots.

Being a peasant and using the English words was looked down upon. These words still get that treatment today in many areas. It is interesting to see such a viewpoint last for about a thousand years.

Swear words were always used. Anyone that argues differently is bonkers. There was not a time where everyone used proper language.

Sure, many will point to proper writing for ages ago as an example. If one has read The Canterbury Tales, they will know otherwise. That book is naughty to the nth degree. Chaucer uses a specific c-word that makes many now retract in disgust.

Proper language is all a manmade concept that ebbs and flows between cultures and ages.

The perception of these words nowadays is quite baffling. It is an extremely divided issue. The issue becomes more divided when one looks into education.

Swearing is obviously not a condoned thing in any schooling before college. College is the outlier. The students in college are adults, so they should be able to say some swears, eh? That is not always the case.

Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss., is a school that really hates swear words.

In their 2018-2019 handbook, they detail the ability to fine students for the use of profanity. The rule also stretches to swearing on clothing. The fines can be pretty hefty. The first offense is $100.

I would go broke.

It is crazy to think that such a rule can be allowed in a public college. The students are adults. Cursing happens. There is a better way to go about it. A hard clamp down on such words will just help spawn new and creative methods of swearing.

The other extreme is the use of swears by professors during their lectures. It is something I have experienced.

In an article for the Chronicle for Higher Education, Jordan Schneider detailed why he swears during his lectures. Schneider is comfortable with swearing and feels that doing so allows his students to become more comfortable. He does state that it only works if the teacher is comfortable with using such language. It makes sense, especially in the humanities.

Education before college can be highly restrictive. The way to talk and write can be heavily regulated. Breaking those barriers can help students grow more comfortable with using their own voice and words.

I think swearing is becoming more commonly accepted in college classes and on campus. Though, it is not the norm, nor should it be.

College is about becoming an adult. Every workplace we enter into will have different sets of rules. Classrooms are the exact same. Each professor is going to have a different view on the use of swearing. Many of their policies will not be outlined, so it is up to the student to figure them out, another thing that can be vital in life.

Fining or hurting students for swearing is wrong, though. They are, after all, just words.

Professors should not treat students like children. If there is an issue with swearing, discuss it with the student before significant ramifications.

I like swear words. They can be fun to use and add a creative flair to jokes and writing. I just do not think we will get to a point where they are generally okay to use, especially in America.

The country has such a wide range of people from different cultures, religions and backgrounds. There will never be a point where we will all just agree on the subject of swear words.

The thing we need to stop is punishment for their use in higher education. It needs to be something that is discussed. I would not even mind professors outlining their views on cursing in their syllabi.

Adult words deserve an adult approach, eh?


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