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August 7, 2012
Goodness Matters
Do Made Up Words Count as Swear Words?
by Vickey Pahnke Taylor

When I was about 13, I started making up words, just for fun. It all began when my mom made a new casserole that was kind of disgusting. After the first taste, I think I said, “This tastes a little bit blookie.”

Before I knew it, over the years, there were several nonsense words that stuck. My family members were using them. So were neighbors and friends. It was weird, but, I suppose, good for my ego. Hey, I was creating a whole new language, of sorts.

When something was not-good, it was “blookie.” Please don’t make comments about these words. I know they are, well, blookie. But, I’m baring my soul here and being extraordinarily personal in a new way.

A few of those words I absolutely will not put in writing — not because they’re offensive, but because I do still have a small measure of pride. Writing them would be too horribly embarrassing because they’re so strange.

Anyway, my thought was: If I say “Oh blookie!”(meaning I am exasperated or upset, or when I think something — or someone — is stupid), then am I being crude or rude? Am I using a substitute word for expressing bother and frustration that could be offensive?

I can honestly say I’ve never used my vocabulary words as a sub for curse words. I think I pretty much got the lesson when a speaker (many moons ago when I was a BYU student) shared this thought: “Cursing is the crutch of a conversational cripple.”

I took it to such an extreme that when my children burped, I would say, “Oops! You’ve corned.” If it came out the opposite direction, I’d tell them they had “beaned.” Yes, I know. I’m different. But this has, believe it or not, become a source of laughter on many occasions, now that they’re grown. Their mom doesn’t curse. It’s just the way it is. You have to picture the eyes rolling and the smirks on their faces when they remember the vegetable words.

Although I wasn’t overtly using ill-conceived words, I probably did develop a long-term pattern of falling back on these ridiculous made-up utterances rather than using proper language. You know — useful words that are found in a dictionary. Maybe I could have, long ago, begun finding more positive ways to react and to build affirmative ways of using speech. Heaven knows, our world can use all the affirmative, upbeat and constructive words and conversations we can offer!

President Gordon B. Hinckley once taught:

“Avoid evil talk. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain. From the thunders of Sinai the finger of the Lord wrote on tablets of stone, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Ex. 20:7). [“A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” January. 2001.]

He also said, in that same address,

“We live in a world that is filled with filth and sleaze, a world that reeks of evil. It is all around us.”

I could not agree more. And so I wonder. Maybe it’s time to put away my made-up words — not because they were created, or are used, for any malicious intent, but because I can do better. What if some outside observer finds a word not only unusual, but rude or, worse, crude? Yikes! I never even took that into consideration through the years.

I’d like my children and grandchildren to simply not swear — to simply find words and ways that never are offensive to the Spirit. What if my own silly, made-up words are offensive to Him!

Because the times in which we live are not like the Nauvoo times, where crude language was surely the exception and not the rule, this is another little area where I might take another growth spurt. With heavenly direction. And with no chance of being misunderstood.

Note here: I say what I think. I like “real.” I am not fond of things or people that are fake or put-on or duplicitous. I pretty much am what you see. That authenticity can continue, and my take on things will remain pretty much what they are. But hopefully I can share my authenticity with, well, more understandable words!

As long as we live and breathe, we can learn and improve. So, here’s to the years of using words like “blookie” Perhaps the blessing of communicating is so huge, and yet taken for granted, that it would do me good to refine and purify the gift.

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