A cultural shift through language: Taboo words

Marco Brasil, staff

People nowadays sprinkle their conversations with colourful words. When you get a D-, that’s really gay. When you’re doing really well in Call of Duty, you’re raping everyone. Your parents won’t let you go out on a Friday night; why do they have to be so retarded? These words aren’t politically correct and shouldn’t be used as frequently as they are. Here are some frequently used words that might be considered taboo along with their actual meanings.

Arguably, one of the most used politically incorrect words is the word “gay”. According to www.dictionary.com, the origin of this word is Middle English and it means fast or sudden. It means homosexual, supporting homosexual interests, and bright or showy. It does not mean stupid or something that is disliked and therefore should not be used to mean “stupid”. On www.urbandictionary.com , the word “gay” has “often used to describe something stupid or unfortunate. Originating from homophobia. Quite preferable among many teenage males in order to buff up their “masculinity” as one of its meanings.

The origin of “retarded” comes from 15th century Latin. It means to delay or be slow. It still means to make slow, or to be delayed. It is used in reference to mentally challenged people even though it is not politically correct. The meaning has not changed in the dictionary over the last six centuries. However, today’s youth have another meaning for “retarded” which states that is another word for something cool. Others say that it means stupid, messed up, or crazy. These meanings can be derogatory and can offend someone who has a mentally disabled family member.

People have taken to calling their friends different derogative things. Some people call their friends sluts or whores. Others refer to their friends as their niggers. This offensive word has its origins in 1786. It is derived from the word negro which means black. It now means a derogatory name for a black person, a member of any dark-skinned race, or a hidden snag or hindrance. It is often used by black people in pop culture but is considered wildly offensive if used by a white person. According to www.urbandictionary.com the word is forbidden on all of television and other forms of public entertainment and is sometimes referenced to as the “n-word.” There are references to the fact that white people are afraid to say nigger. In the song ‘Freaks and Geeks’ by Childish Gambino, a black rapper, he raps “Chillin’ with my n-words, say it like a white kid.”  

Many people remember seeing Kick-Ass and being surprised when 12-year old Hit Girl says “Okay you cunts… Let’s see what you can do now!”  This word got its origin in the 13th century. It means the vulva or vagina, an offensive word for a woman, female genitals, or sexual intercourse with a woman. Some people might go so far as to claim it to be the most offensive word in the English language.
These words used to be more offensive than they are now. They have become less taboo through their usage in popular culture. Less people are caring that they are offensive words and more people are using them in everyday language. 

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *