Writers and readers assume that words have meaning and value. The prevalence and nonchalant attitude surrounding profanity in western culture might have us believe that using hardy vocabulary is appropriate willy-nilly – after all, that’s how we live. But perhaps that is the best reason to pay the most attention to when and where and why we drop these words: the more they are used casually, the less impact they bring to the page. We are depriving these infamous words of their full assault value when we use them like grandparents giving chocolate candy to toddlers (and the results in both cases are disastrous).
Everything I need to know about swearing I learned in high school. This boils down to two principles. One, for the best effect, swear sparingly. Two, swear when the situation requires it for authenticity.
When I played volleyball in high school, I played with a team that was expected to…
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