I'm going to share a secret. Are you ready and waiting? Can I build up more suspense? After all in writing suspense is a brilliant method of drawing attention to the story...are you interested? OK...fasten your seat-belts...here we go.
A secret that all teachers know, especially the really good teachers, like my adorable daughters, and Mrs. Ward who lived across the street from me, when you teach you learn far more than those listening to you. What is that I hear? Did someone say, "That's your secret? BORING!" Hang on for a few more minutes, the post will get more interesting.
Butt, bum, backside, touche, hindquarters, gluts, gluteous maximus, and minimus, rear end, heinie...ok, I'm going to stop there in my exploration of language. From the time a child is old enough to hang out with friends the back of their front becomes endlessly fascinating. Does that fascination end when youth become adults? Ah no, they often giggle and chat about the attractive nature of somebody's touche.
I know that I'm different. When it comes to being initially attracted to somebody, I prefer to look at the feature described as "The windows of the soul." That would be the eyes. Beautiful eyes are far more attractive to me than the muscles upon which you spend a great deal of time sitting.
Now you're scratching your head and saying, "Hmmm, mildly interesting but what about the title?" Hold on, I'm about to arrive.
Euphemism is the title of study today. All of that seemingly random discussion above actually applies to this topic. Here is an excellent definition of euphemism from the ever wise source of Wikipedia.
Euphemisms may be used to avoid words considered rude, while still conveying their meaning. Yes ladies and gents, there you have it. Euphemisms are more polite ways of saying things. Please notice that in my above listing of names for your gluteus maximus and minimus I do NOT include a certain A word that is often used to define that same region of the body.
When I was growing up (the dinosaurs were no longer roaming the earth but they had only recently frozen to death), The use of the A word when referring to your backside might earn you a swat or two on that said backside. The other way of stopping you from using the A word in reference to your touche was to fill your mouth with sudsy soap. (My mouth remembers that flavor far better then I would like. I do have an extremely clean mouth).
Not only did we NOT use that A word, we did not even discuss our backsides. Backsides were quite vulgar. We also did not discuss flatulence (aka farts), or burps, aka...shouldn't be done in public or discussed anywhere.
I do not believe that our denial attitude was necessarily healthy. After all, there is not a single mammal that I'm aware of that doesn't need to participate in those activities.
On the other end of the refinement spectrum we now have adults who burp loudly in public and rarely excuse themselves, or worse flatulate in public without asking pardon . (I understand those over 50 may not have control over those situations. They DO have control over saying, "I'm so sorry." Or simply, "Excuse me."
Does refinement matter? Do we no longer NEED euphemisms because we just use the coarser version of the word constantly?
Not only do I wish this post to discuss euphemisms (and possibly my wish to teach adults in a classroom again), but I wish to raise the question, Is refinement passe? Does it no longer matter what words we use in public, and especially, what we DO in public?
I do NOT judge others when they use these words in their own worlds. I just won't feel very comfortable in those aforementioned worlds. I am not being a snob. I just like the mental challenge of speaking to people who have the capacity to use euphemisms, even if it's just around me.
In my world, my sphere of influence, I will continue to battle on for euphemisms, and for polite refined living. Feel it necessary to swear in my presence...watch out...I have a bar of soap with your name on it!