NPR logo Darn This Dirty Mouth

Darn This Dirty Mouth

No cussin' on the Virginia Beach beachfront. Source: Tuaussi hide caption

toggle caption
Source: Tuaussi

It might surprise my parents, but at times, I've got a filthy mouth. Good thing I don't live in South Pasadena, because starting this week, it could cost me. Mayor Michael Cacciotti has proclaimed this week "No Cussing Week," and while no one will be jailed — or even fined — cussing is very much frowned upon for now. To be clear, I'm reasonably selective about my cussing. I try not to do it in public where strangers — especially kids — could hear. I think it's sort of scary as a little kid to hear random adults spewing epithets in the grocery store, at the bus stop, whatever. So I try not to be that person. I also, for a time, tried not to curse at all. I'd read or overheard somewhere that cussing is really about linguistic laziness, that we resort to those words because we're too dumb to find a better expression of our feelings. After my own little no-cussing experiment, I believe that that's true... sometimes. Sure, if you're using the f-word to modify every word in your sentence (it's an incredibly agile word, it's true) you could probably do a better job expressing yourself with some diversifications. But other times, it's absolutely essential to curse, and there's just no better way to characterize a person, place, or thing than with a carefully placed profanity. How do you feel about it? Do you have a strict no-cussing policy, or do you relish the occasional — or not-so — dirty word?

NPR thanks our sponsors