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It is a common practice for drivers worldwide to roll down their mirrors as they reproach their fellow drivers, which occurs more when there is a traffic jam. During my childhood when I was in my first grade, my uncle used to drop me to school. During rush hours when traffic jam was beginning to build up, he would roll down his mirror and yell abusive words to other drivers. At one time, my uncle exchanged insulting words with a driver whose car almost hit my uncle’s, and a fight broke up.
Since I have grown older, I rarely come across adults abusing each other in public than when I was young. It is a good idea that adults realize that they should be role models to children. In addition, they should always be polite when handling children. This is because children pick up habits and words from adults. However, speaking swearwords is a habit that is common among majority children. “Often, children use insulting language whenever they feel upset by a condition or a person” (Sexism In English: Embodiment And Language, Nilsen).
It is worth reflecting on offensive language and realize that people, who use abusive and insulting language, use it on nearly all their common expressions. Sometimes individuals utter abusive language to themselves as a way of venting their frustration and anger. This paper aims at exploring the nature of offensive language and the forbidding circumstances and reasons.
In the light of this discussion, the following articles are essential; “What Is, And Isn’t, In a Word” written by Jesse Sheidlower, “Four-Letter Words Can Hurt You”: Barbara Lawrence, and “Sexism In English: Embodiment And Language”: Alleen Pace Nilsen. There are three aspects linked to the nature of offensive language. First, Lawrence regards offensive language as a gender infringement particularly on women.
It results from sexual activity, human organs and functions, and insulting ways. Secondly, dissemination of portions of offensive language is by individuals who have no evidence for etymological meaning. Third, offensive language has roots in cultures and individuals habituated to residing with abusive language. The effort towards stopping use of offensive language is not an individual, but the political and human power.
In support of this, Lawrence (140) argues “offensive language is the source and function of the words themselves” (Four-Letter Words Can Hurt You, Lawrence). A wide array of offensive language revolves around functions and human organs. They are usually obscene words, which denigrate women. Lawrence (139) asserts “It is the language used to describe sexual activity, such as copulate and intercourse. Moreover, the words are neither tabooed in print publication nor conversation. Equally, the words earthy, rich, and strong, describe sexual activity better during normal conversations” (Four-Letter Words Can Hurt You, Lawrence).
This brings forth another vital point; offensive language not only degenerate women’s natural human function openly. It also relates to the functions and organs of men, such as testes, to suggest the vital interaction between females and males. Conversely, Lawrence (141) acknowledges that offensive language has maligned on “woman biological identity, their individual and heir humanness” (Four-Letter Words Can Hurt You, Lawrence).
For instance, people who deal with pornography like utilizing piece of the tail so as to opaque human functions and organs. According to the dictionary, the words piece of tail refers to sexual intercourse slang. In this case, pornographers use the slang to elaborate the discrepancy between the birth canal and anal outlet in women. Lawrence is against the idea of using offensive language, which disgraces and depreciates women. Lawrence establishes why many religions, nationalities and women care about the use of offensive language on women. Measures should be put in place so as to rescue women from this predicament.
In the light of this discussion, it should be noted that the sexual pejoratives predicament is not a concern for women only. Women movements alone are too small to solve the predicament. Women Liberation Movements require human help and support. Women Liberation Movements are the sources of curious attention from people. This leads to various discussions in regards to whether the offensive language makes women feel hurt, offensive language sources and whether women are extremely sensitive to reflect on the offensive language. It is worth noting that women become the fair game and topic of discussion in the Liberation movements.
Women have made immense efforts to resist utilizing offensive language; however, their efforts are never successful. Words such as spice, kike and coon used in offensive language, and which degrade women, may start denigrating countries, culture and males. Then, offensive language would be viewed as being a critical predicament, and the society would consider the issue a valuable question.
In order to stop the obscene words used on women, the power from a small group is inadequate. There is a need to incorporate various politics, religions, ethnicities, race, age, and gender. For instance, the Native Americans consider the word squaw as offensive, and it originates from the obscenity associated with the female genitalia. The Native Americans proposed that the name be changed, but their efforts were in vain.
Considering that the Native Americans are an extremely small group, other people excluded from the group could not decipher why the Native Americans persisted so much on the word. If people feel that such a word is an insult to their personality, the word may not be used for naming anything. Moreover, Sheidlower (57) asserts that as a result of the civil rights movements which were prevalent in the 1967, the political power in America changed the word Nigger to Negro. This is because the power people have more consideration for the word Nigger as opposed to Squaw among the Native Americans.
According to Sheidlower (23), “political power influences the name given. It is possible to forbid obscene words” (What Is, And Isn’t, In a Word, Sheidlower). Furthermore, the denotation of obscene words can be transformed. The history of the word and etymological word usage are irrelevant; what matters are the human and political powers. Hence, it is worthy emphasizing that some offensive language words are downplayed and used randomly by some people. However, human and political powers maximize the use of these words since they believe that the obscene words will catch the attention of their listeners.
As mentioned earlier, offensive language has roots in the function and sources of the words. Some people use some words and consider them offensive, whereas in the real sense, they are not offensive. For instance, although the word squaw is offensive, its etymological meaning is woman.
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The following are instances when inoffensive words may be offensive; abbreviated words, derived words, in foreign language and via people’s consciousness. For instance, the word gyp comes from Gyps since majority people consider the Gypsy personality as dishonest. The words Poppycock possesses an abusive meaning and originates from a foreign word which means dork, and used as an offensive slang. It is therefore, worth noting that the offensive language imposed on some words promulgated by individuals, and their etymological meaning does not prove their offensive meaning.
In addition, offensive language forms an integral part in the life of people, and constitutes part of their culture. People often reside with offensive language, and do not realize the damage it bears on women. The integration of offensive language in cultures results in female life coerces and paired sex discrimination. According to Nielsen (151), the Afghan culture has a proverb that states ‘if you see an old man, sit down and take a lesson; if you see an old woman, throw a stone’ (Sexism in English: Embodiment and Language, Nilsen). It is difficult to comprehend why Afghan people respect men’s speech, and make no efforts to listen to the ideas women have. As a result, the Afghan women have lost social status and voice as a result of sex discrimination (Sheidlower).
In order to ensure that offensive language ends, it is imperative to scrutinize the culture. Offensive language affects people’s behavior and thinking. Nilsen’s study purposes at proving that the sexism propagated on women is prevalent in minds. She “proposes that sexism offensive language can be stopped if people are keen on their thoughts and assumptions” (Sexism in English: Embodiment and Language, Nilsen).
From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that the nature of offensive language lies in the insulting concept of the natural human function. People have a tendency to distort inoffensive language and spread this, resulting to offensive language. However, it is worth noting that offensive language has roots in people’s culture and life. A single gender or person has no ability to forbid offensive language. A small group’s power is inadequate. There is a need for people from various politics, countries, race and cultures to unite so as to end offensive language.
Lawrence, Barbara. Four- Letter Words Can Hurt You. 2010. Web.
Nilsen, Alleen. Sexism in English: Embodiment and Language. 2012. Web.
Sheidlower, Jesse. What Is, And Isn’t, In a Word. 2001. Web.