Four letter words, colorful vocabulary, obscenities, foul language, profanity, swear words, cursing – whatever you call it, it comes up in an English class from time to time. There are certain words which just have to be pronounced correctly. No one should be getting the vowels wrong with wink, fork or sheet. And it goes without saying, they’ll want to know why. Not just because they feel the additional vocab could serve good purpose in the future, but to know what exactly is the pronunciation they should be avoiding.
I’ve had a couple of classes over the years where a few minutes has been dedicated to establishing the words of the common man! There was one I’ll never forget. A hand went up and the student called out ‘What does c*** mean?’. There’s bad language, then there’s bad language. I explained that it was the worst word in the world and should never be used again! I have discovered I’m not alone in that summary of the C word….
My eight-year-old son, Joel, comes into my office to ask if there’s a worse swearword than fuck. “No,” I say. There’s a silence. “You’re lying,” he says. “There’s none worse than fuck,” I say. Joel narrows his eyes. “I know you’re lying,” he says. He leaves the room.
On Saturday I take Joel to Chessington World of Adventures. What a crappy theme park! None the less, we have a wonderful day together. “You’re a great dad!” Joel says as we drive home. “And you’re a great son!” I reply with a magical twinkle. We smile lovingly at each other.
“There is a worse swearword than fuck, isn’t there?” says Joel. “Yes, there is!” I say, still with a magical twinkle. “What is it?” asks Joel. “It’s c…” I begin. I stop. “Uh,” I say. “Tell me,” says Joel. “I swear this is just for me. I’ll never use it. I just need to know. I will never use it on anyone. I swear. Just tell me.”
I feel clammy and hemmed in. “And you won’t tell Mum we had this conversation?” I say. “I promise,” says Joel. “Mum will never know.”
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