Sometime back when I was still a student, after a really shitty exam my mother asked me “how did it go?” Casually I replied “Mumbai University raped us.” My mom flinched and told me not to use the word so casually, to which I replied “not in the literal sense, I meant it in an abstract way.” I didn’t quite understand her thought behind it then, but as usual it took an outsider’s perspective for me to learn.
After a few months, my keenness into the US politics had increased leaps and bounds (thanks to other great bloggers) and I am pretty hooked to speeches made by supporters of both sides. Republican supporter Rush Limbaugh III on radio was using the word ‘rape’ pretty casually,
“… that you have an intelligent informed electorate who simply doesn’t like being raped and being raped is what is happening people in this country by their government”.
And for the past quite a while I have been following Stephen Fry’s shows and interviews. In one of which he explains the simple way we make language work.
“Torture (noun) – the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.”
We use this word to describe our lectures, long queues and other things which bore us and take a long time. While it means some sort of 3rd degree pain inflicted. The word which is highly censored and one word which everyone takes an offense to, no I don’t mean racist, I meant the word is ‘FUCK’. Let us have a look at all its usages
Itdoesn’t require much thinking to understand the kind of words we hate and the kind we use.
The word fuck, which is so censored, frowned upon and hence ostracized is simply harmless. The meaning of its usage in all its forms, literal, figurative, abstract, streetwise are simply not insulting. If I say “ the lecture was fucking boring” it will be laughed along with by guys and the girls will smile, but not repeat the words. But if I said “ the lecture was a torture” more often than not, members of both the sexes join me in it. Not only will they nod their heads in agreement, but they will repeat the same statement with the exact same wordings. The word fuck when screamed out loud relieves you. Using it to express something bad is opposite of what it literally means, but still it is not as bad as misusing the words ‘rape’ or ‘torture’. What we consider as bad (junk) food and bad words generally makes us feel good about ourselves and is a nice stress buster,
What the fuck is wrong with us?
Torture was once used in its literal meaning, i.e. its usage meant what it stood for. Over the years, callous usage of the word has led to such dilution of meaning, that now it is equivalent of boring. The use of the word rape must not be callous. Imagine about 20 years later, when our future generation is up and running, the word will be used for something on the same lines as boring. It seems like an exaggeration, I would have loved if it was one, but it isn’t. It is human to dilute the meaning of words by over usage and hence I plead one and all to ensure, that the words you choose are the words you mean.
This post/article wasn’t torturous, it was boring, educative.
Would love to know your views