Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Porn or Pr0n: What's the Difference?!

There are certain "faux pas" words in our English language that are socially unacceptable to write or say.  I'm sure you can think of a few off the top of your head.

One of my friends used to always use the word "pr0n" instead of "pornography" or "porn," and it always struck me as odd.  Does switching the letters around and substituting a zero for the "o" really changing anything?  People who read what you typed understand that pr0n = porn so there is no difference in meaning.  Are there people who really are less offended because one attempted to "hide" the word?



I'm all for adhering to social conventions for the sake of politeness.  If someone is uncomfortable because of their own beliefs or feelings or background with you saying the word "porn", then I would definitely not want to step on their toes.  But does changing things around really make it any different?

On another similar but different note, curse words (or cussing).  Is there really a different between fuck and f***?  Shit vs s**t?  The meaning is usually still the same.  If you write, "F*** you," no meaning is lost.  Is replacing certain letters with stars really going to make the word any less offensive?  Besides perhaps the possibility of shielding the word from younger eyes, is there really a difference?

I would go as far as to say that saying "freak" instead of "fuck" is hardly any different.   My argument lies on the fact that the use of the word "freak" in that instance does not allude to any of the actual definitions of the word "freak" and only relies on the similar sound in relation to "fuck".  It therefore carries all of the definitions and connotations of the curse word.

When it all comes down to it, the clarity, validity and integrity of our consistently-morphing language depends on us using it correctly. 

1. If you are going to use the word, use the word and understand the possible repercussions. 
All words, whether or cussing or not, have connotations attached to them, and often those connotations vary from person to person, culture to culture.  We need to be considerate and aware of how all words are interpreted by the recipients and be respectful of their possible impact and affects.  While we cannot write something that will please everyone, I believe the act of being aware of the limitations and power of language makes the biggest difference.

2. Use the word properly. 
My pet peeve is that the word "fuck" is often used in every day language in all forms: adjective, noun, adverb, verb, etc.  Last I checked, its actual definition is more limited than that.  While I understand that language changes and develops with its culture, I feel that using a hot button word to express an emotion rather than expressing the emotion yourself degrades the value of words.  The word fuck gets people's attention; granted, it garners more attention than saying, "I am angry right now."  But the value in knowing language well enough to express yourself without having to depend on a hot button word raises the legitimacy of what you say.

3. Your tongue is the most powerful muscle in your body.
This statement refers to the Bible passage in the book of James which discusses the value in taming the tongue.  Whether you believe in the Bible or not, one cannot deny that words are powerful, and they can hurt.  We've all been hurt by words before.  Words can also uplift, comfort, encourage.  For me, I hope that the words of my mouth AND my fingers give homage to my Creator.




Soli Deo Gloria.