Southern Folk & Foul Words

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By Bradley
Robertson

I’m going to open up a little can of worms today. I feel it is necessary to learn to pursue my curiosities, as an aspiring journalist. I also believe in humble honesty. And as you, my readers, are so very kind, what better place to share and grow than here?

A little humor and a little more thought can go a long way.

What was foul language like in your home growing up? Also, where does it stand in your life today?

I have a comical and far too familiar connection with foul words. They were not used too often in my home and when they were, I got to see a burnt biscuit fly across my kitchen or enjoy my mother acting silly when chatting on the house phone with one of her girlfriends.

My grandmother, Gaga, whom I wrote about recently, was hysterical with the words “Oh hell” or “piss it.” I vividly remember being at a hotdog stand with her around the age of 8 and she slipped up somehow and made a mess. She quickly let out an “oh hell” right next to me and then began to chuckle. I laughed right along with her, having no care for the offense.

Sometimes for no reason at all, she would let the words just fly out of her mouth. She would look right at me and smile and snicker. It was like our own inside fun. I knew there was something sneaky behind her words, but I didn’t care. I was laughing and sharing a moment with my grandma. These memories, foul or not, bring back silliness in me today.

When I was growing up, it was rare for my father to get upset. But per memory, when he did, it was because he had burnt something. You see, my dad loves to eat food and he loves to cook food, so when food was burned beyond being edible, lighting struck. I have seen eggs, hotdogs, biscuits and even a steak thrown in my kitchen; alongside a choice word.

This brings about complete hysteria for me today. Burning food makes me pretty mad too. I made a whole pizza one time from scratch and burned it to a crisp. Not only was there the stress of time put into the pizza, but we were left with nothing to eat. I didn’t throw the pizza in my kitchen, but I did sling it out my back door. I don’t fully remember, but I’m betting I let a word or two slip out of my sweet, southern mouth.

My mother used a few words here or there, mostly in banter with her dear friends. She clearly took after my grandmother, for her words were not meant to harm, but to provoke a sense of fun. My mother worked hard all my childhood. I’m betting the few words and conversations she had over the telephone, however clean or foul, brought her a sense of joy that then fed into my family.

I was not hurt by foul language growing up, just the opposite. It seems today, my memory allows me to laugh and then even write about it, safe and secure in my roots. However, I’m betting this does not ring true for everyone. We all have a different perspective, based on our experience.

Do you know of “inherent bias”?

It refers to the effect of underlying factors or assumptions that skew viewpoints of a subject under discussion.

Regarding the idea of foul language, I would say many people detest it to be spoken. I would guess that it even scares some people. I would bet for some, it goes in one ear and out the other. And for many, the words are used often, as if it’s normal and acceptable. There can be trauma related to foul words, or as in my case, they can evoke happy thoughts and laughter.

A handful of people will have a completely different viewpoint on foul words, directly related to their past experiences.

Before we can understand one person’s idea on language, we have to first understand where they come from. When we have an open mind and can listen, only then will we see that their reasoning makes sense. Even if we don’t agree, at least we can be humble enough to understand.

Politics: the good, the bad and the very ugly.

Tis the season. It’s here. And how will we respond?

We will not all have the same opinions. Nor do we all come from the same place or have the same background knowledge. However, we will assume we know all the right things because of where we have been. Am I right?

We are entitled to every bit of our personal beliefs. It makes us human. It makes us think and ask questions and seek answers. It makes us American.

But at the end of the day, let us not be skewed by our own judgements of others. Instead, let us be so confident and sure in our personal beliefs that if our neighbor dares to differ, we will still invite him over for a hamburger and a beer. If he turns down the offer, nothing you can do there. But at least you know you did your best and did it honestly and humbly. 

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