I was listening to a podcast the other day and the topic was mostly revolving around a certain double ‘g’ word. There are two double ‘g’ words us humans find particularly offensive. One starts with ‘N’, while the other starts with the letter ‘F’. This podcast was mostly centered around the one that starts with ‘F’. The podcast is called Lexicon Valley.
Anyway, throughout the course of the podcast they touch on many subjects with that word being the focal point.
At one point during the podcast Arnold Zwicky is featured. He’s a linguistics professor at Stanford. He WANTS people to use the ‘F’ word so that it can eventually be reclaimed. And when reclamation occurs, according to Zwicky, the word loses its power and becomes ordinary.
Yes, the parallel is made between the ‘F’ word and the ‘N’ word. As a general rule, I personally avoid double ‘g’ words. Well, at least those two. For instance, I love the word “rugged” because it describes my good looks.
In all seriousness, it got me thinking. Words don’t really have any meaning other than that which we attach to them. There is no intrinsic good or bad in any particular word. The ‘F’ word is a great example! It went from being a fairly mundane innocuous word to becoming something you’re never supposed to say.
What are we to do about this as a society? Should we bow to the word itself and allow it to keep having control? Consequently, this would mean we’d never say it unless we intended real harm. Alternatively, do we say it so much the word loses its power? Consequently, having to explain the word in a historical context to future generations.
The answer seems easy. In some ways, logically, we should all be saying offensive words all of the time. Thus, NO words would be offensive. Unfortunately, we humans are much to complex for that. And think, what if a homosexual person would rather you DIDN’T say that word? What do you do? Do you decide to be stubbornly offensive for this person’s own good? Or, do you respect that the word is troublesome and decide NOT to say it?
As a black man, I used to HATE the OTHER double ‘G’ word. I thought of it as akin to saying that other ‘F’ word that only has four letters. I still don’t say that word. At this point, I can’t say it. Donald Glover (Troy from Community) has a comedic bit about the ‘N’ word and how if you don’t say it soon enough, even as a black kid, you lose the ability. I’ve lost it. I don’t sound “cool” saying it at all.
Nonetheless, I’m beginning to believe that we all SHOULD say those offensive words. That way, they have no power. Maybe, that’s when we REALLY conquer injustice. When we take things meant to hurt or destroy and strip them of their meaning. Perhaps real victory is when the things that used to control us and cause us pain become impotent.
But… maybe not. I’m still on the fence. What do you think?
– Brandon Holly –