Archive | 3:04 pm

Vowels and Vulgarity

28 Sep

One Day in Class…

A student raised his hand and said, “Hey Mr. Picone, why is that bitch in the front row so ugly?”

One of the things that can make being a teacher so difficult is that on most days you just never see it coming.

I must warn you. Life in the public schools is not that easy…There is vulgarity there!

! I’ve never been to sea and I’ve never been a pirate but I’ve often heard that sailors and pirates are famous for their salty talk and off color language however, I have spent 50 years in the public schools and I can tell you that the vulgarity and profanity that can be found within our halls of education is a match for any profession legal or ill. And oddly enough in education it’s the kids who lead the way and blaze new pathways in obscenity not the adults. Adults have to watch what we say or it’s the highway for us. Some punk will rat us out to the administration and the next thing you know you’re being reprimanded for not setting a good enough example for the children. Good grief!

Every unutterable syllable of perverse, offensive and sexually explicit language that I’ve ever learned, I’ve learned in school from some classmate or student of mine. (well at least until the invention of HBO) I was never in the military nor did I work in construction so I will admit to leading somewhat of a sheltered life and I will also admit to being a little behind the curve when I was a student in high school as I often had no clue as to what other students or adults were talking about or referring to when they spoke about sex or used profanity. I had no idea what a douche bag was just that I didn’t want to be one and I thought that Pussy Galore was just a cute name for a girl that James Bond liked. Back in those days (when I was a kid) adults could use double entendre and innuendo to make inside adult jokes that were secretly shared between other worldly adults… and only the savviest and most corrupted children might be in on the secret, but naive kids like me still had no clue. Heck, I only just recently realized that Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke fame on TV was a prostitute who ran a whorehouse! How did I miss that? They called her Kitty which rather than just another cute nickname for Katherine was undoubtedly another inside joke that Ms. Galore would have clearly been in on.

Anyway, as I got older I picked up more carnal word play by listening more closely in the hallowed hallways of high school, college and beyond until suddenly in the late 70’s,  I found myself right back where I started; In high school again! Only this time there was a new generation in town and the walls of double entendre and innuendo had all but crumbled and disappeared. So much so that not many people even know what those two words mean anymore. And I was shocked to hear what I was hearing. The adults no longer owned profanity. The kids did! How did that happen???…I certainly know that teachers did not teach it in school, that’s for sure.  The Great Vowel Shift in the English language which changed the way we speak and pronounce and even spell words began sometime during the 14th century for reasons still not sure to linguists…but who or what was responsible for this great vulgarity shift in civilization that has changed the actual civility of our civilization? Any thoughts or guesses? Discuss! (nicely)

GRACEFIFTEENTEN

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