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Language Shift–Gods Darn it!

By the many Gods! You're right!!

When I speak, I do my best to actually mean what I say. I choose words carefully for their best meaning for what I mean to express. I am highly aware of the power of words. But some things are tough to beat. The biggest problem is that I swear like a sailor. I come from a working-class background, in an area of the country with an odd dialect. Swearing emphasized the emotion of what you were saying, it showed your passion.

Of course when I found my inner Pagan-ness (seems a more fitting description than “conversion”, doesn’t it?) my perspective changed. Besides, I was in college (and, at the time, a private one at that) and was definitely out-classed and it was time to grow up and quit swearing. I endeavored to change my favored exclamation from “Jeeeezus Christ!” to “By the many Gods!” and trade out “Goddamnit” to “Gods blast it!”. I even looked to the literature, to some old Greek expressions which variously translate to “By Zeus’s foot” and “Poseiden’s beard”. But those are really hard to remember when you stub your toe in the middle of the night. Or to say “Goddess bless you” and “Goddess bless America”. I just really wanted to express myself more accurately.

Well, that was an abysmal failure. My colleagues teased me about taking my new identity way too seriously, and indeed, they could hardly take what I was saying seriously. I had never intended to rub my identity in anyone’s face, and now the best I can do is “oh, my Gods” and shorten it in a text message to “OMGs!” Some dialects are just too hard to beat.

Jesus' To-Do List does not include saving me from the guy that cut me off in traffic.

It doesn’t even make sense to swear to Jesus because I don’t believe he can help me, or ask his God to damn something since I don’t believe in Hell, where damned things go. I’m certainly not asking for Jesus’ help as I’m more inclined to ask someone who rules the domain rather than put more on Jesus’ to-do list. I didn’t realize until I started practicing Paganism just how our language is full of Christian metaphor.

Of course, it get’s easier when I’m in my kindred company, although it takes me awhile to get into it (and usually by the time one does get into it, the festival is over anyhow). I don’t care for having a split persona (there’s enough un-integrated stuff in my life without having two distinct dialects!) but don’t want to be ostracized for my choice in language.

What do you think? Did you make any language chances when you started practicing? How did others react to your new linguistic choices?

  1. February 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Go ahead and swear away. It’s good for the spirit. Besides, hiding one’s background is shifty, and bourgeois.

  2. KJ
    February 18, 2010 at 8:36 am

    I find that my mouth is hard to shut up, Seriously programmed to just fire at will growing up…courtesy of my background i feel, and now it goes off at random and wit more force than most things….I tried to switch out curse words, and negative words for less powerful ones, some stuck which i admit is nice, but my friend look at me like I’m crazy when i pop up with Cetus Lepidus

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