Take it from me…after 50 years I am still struggling with it.
Something I will never forget; my first semester of college and I received an “F” in an essay I wrote for my English 101 class. Mrs. Applegate said that I used trite and overused clichés. What she didn’t understand was that for somebody who had arrived in this country only four years before…those trite and overused clichés were brand new to me; they were clever and fresh and it goes to show how different perceptions can lead to different value judgments.
At times I still have difficulties with the use of certain things like “ON” which can be at times a preposition, an adjective and an adverb. For example: when used as a function word to indicate means of conveyance, like: “on the bus” but when I wrote recently that guys in motorcycles were hot, I quickly got a comment from a follower that unless the dude inserted himself through the escape pipe he could not possibly be “In” the bike, but does it not apply for being “on” the bus? I have images in my mind of people sprawled ON top of buses to get around.
There is a lot of “tribal knowledge” involved. For somebody new to the language there are expressions and quotes that don’t make any sense or are absolutely absurd. Case in point is “Hitch your wagon to a star”; what does it mean? I know it is figure of speech and all, put when you take a test to get a job and you are faced with twenty five of these mother fucking absurdities it is frustrating. You know that you are smarter than the person administering the test and the one who is going to be your boss…but because of these little “got cha” tests it makes you feel like an idiot.
We are all familiar with the amount of censorship that was present during the infancy of television. They actually had a stiff, prudish person sit in and have a final say on what words to use and what things could or could not be shown…for example: bedrooms of married couples had single beds….RIGHT. The tyrannical oversight by the Federal Communications Commission was reflective of a very uptight society; one that was extremely uncomfortable with sex and physiological functions. Under federal court rulings and commission rules, material is indecent if it “in context, depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities or organs in a patently offensive manner as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium.” Indecent speech can be aired safely between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
I was in Spain with my elderly mother and I had fallen asleep watching television. Sometime around 3 AM I was awakened by the sounds of sex, wailing, puffing and moaning coming from a female being shown on the television channel that only hours before had a very innocent geological documentary. I got up and turned off the TV before my mom could awaken and it would have been embarrassing for her.
Of course I use dirty words in my everyday language and in my blog. I have often been criticized for gratuitous use of profanity. But from where I sit, stand or lay-lie (another one of those ambiguous things) it would seem to me that “PROFANITY IS THE SALT AND PEPPER OF THE OTHERWISE BLAND ENGLISH LANGUAGE STEW”