A number of years ago now, I decided to conduct a … sociology (?) experiment on myself and the kids. I wanted to see if I could substitute an artificial expletive for the usual excretory and reproductive oaths commonly used. I considered the now common “frak” or old-school “shazbot” but in the end decided on “razzin frazzin” which is basically a fussy sound, but also something Yosemite Sam would say. Now, I have never been a big oath taker, so if you try this, your results may vary. That said, my experiment has been a resounding success from my side. I can now take a vicious blow to the shin or get cut off in traffic and say “razzin frazzin” with no urge for stronger language. So in context and emotional delivery, ‘round these parts, “razzin frazzin” is a true expletive.
From the kids’ side, I don’t know. I have yet to hear them (currently 12, 10, 8) curse at all. Even the Mythbusters say “crap”, “hell” is fairly freely used in G rated movies, non-Brits don’t think “bloody” is anything to worry about, etc. When speaking to the kids in academic terms, they say that they know the “‘s’ word” or the “‘f’ word” (not the ‘f’ word I was thinking of though! 8). But, at least within range of my hearing, my kids don’t curse. So, still no results from the learn-by-example side of things.
Having had this success with language substitution, I’ve been considering what other changes I might want to make. Now, having grown up in English-speaking Canada, oaths by the Christian God are nigh unavoidable. Being agnostic, though, that seems inappropriate.
Which oaths do I use, and what would be good substitutes?
Off the top of my head:
- God/Lord knows…
- There but for the grace of God…
Simplest for my own philosophical/political purposes would be to select a female deity, for instance Kuan Yin or Athena, and do a direct substitution. Not being an actual follower of any of them, that doesn’t quite seem right either… but if, say, one spread them out “by Bast and Kali” maybe…? I still haven’t come up with a satisfactory solution, but I dunno, maybe Cthulhu? 8)