What The Eff??

This is an odd post for me, but one that I think is essential. It has been partly inspired by a friend of mine, and partly inspired by a book by Gurdjieff, one that I am reading now. I shall come back to this later, but one of the four commandments of his father, is that we should be unfailingly polite to people around us.

Now, I do not use the word, “fuck”. I do say it in my mind, but I do not verbalize it. I have probably verbalized it about ten times in the last fifteen years.

There was a time in my twenties, when I had an extremely foul tongue, and there were more expletives in my speech than normal words. Between English, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi and Bengali, I had a wide range of cuss words to choose from. I was really impressive, I must say!

Gradually, I started to tone down my use of swear words. In my late thirties, there was an exchange between a Phillipino lady and my boss. She used the “F” word a lot during an argument between the two, and at one point, my boss simply said that he could get his point across without having to resort to the word “fuck”. That was it. I stopped using the word!

Now, assuming that the video plays, you will see how inventive we are in using this word in our day-to-day speech. The video above is a fantastic example of how many ways we can use this word!

However, the word “fuck” has replaced many English words, and while the usage of the word is rich in its variety, the English language has become much the poorer for it.

We often start using the word in our adolescence, because it liberates us. There is something forbidden, as children, about the use of the word. Using it is a part of our initiation into the adult world. Women find it liberating at times. Men think it makes them more of a man.

When I entered the world of the corporate ladder, I had bosses who were abusive because they could be abusive, and could get away with it. It was a show of power. This still exists.

Very often, senior management uses the word, because it is cool, or deemed to be cool and hip, and because they can. These days, I hear, in India, you need to be a little careful in the usage of the word, because it can be construed as a form of sexual aggression.

It is used far too often. Now, I am not a prude. Far be it from me to be prudish. Yet, when we replace some exquisite English words and expressions from our vocabulary, I think we lose elegance. We lose some of the beauty of the language, and bring it down to it’s lowest common multiple. We lose the capacity to express ourselves in wonderful ways.

We diminish as a species.

This is my simple view. While we need not give up the use of the word, “fuck”, I think we should use it sparingly.

Why lose the beauty, elegance, and inventiveness of expression for just one word, no matter how profane it may be?

Think about it.


  1. I mostly agree with you. But we have a TV comedy in Britain such as In The Thick Of It, they made a film called In the Loop which I think is more famous. The swearing in it is almost baroque in its brilliance. But when it becomes pointless and repetitive I try and avoid it. But every now and then a well-timed well-judged swearing is great!

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