Sorry I do have some highly theological stuff to write after all my holiday reading, but this came up last night and I have to write about it!
Bloody is the adjectival form of blood but may also be used as an expletive attributive (intensifier) in Australia, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, South Africa (in the form of bladdy or blerrie), New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Anglophone Caribbean and Sri Lanka. Nowadays it is considered (by most of the population of these countries) to be a very mild expletive, and unlikely to cause offence in most circles, with the exception of the most severe critics.
When I had my renewal of faith I stopped swearing overnight. It was not a conscious decision. In fact it was only when a friend pointed out that I wasn’t swearing that I realised I had stopped. And I did use to swear rather a lot. (A time spent in a restoration project with various builders was probably the initial cause!) Obviously I fall occasionally, when I am really angry or when I am very tired. But one word I do seem to use is ‘bloody’. A Christian friend called me on it recently saying it originated from a reference to Jesus’ blood, which did make me think.
So what constitutes swearing and what is acceptable? Because actually any word used in a particular way, can be a swear word. When we are cross, angry or want to emphasise a point any word can be used to do that, if it is said in the right tone. And many people use replacement words such as ‘frickin’ instead of the other F word, or Geez instead of Jesus. So what is acceptable? Is it that words which have offensive meaning behind them, or which might cause offense are unacceptable? Because to me saying ‘frickin’ is almost as bad as the original because you are just replacing one offensive word with something slightly different, but saying it with exactly the same intention.
Wikipedia shows various references for the origins of the word ‘bloody’ as a swear word, including a derivation of ‘By my Lady’ referring to the Virgin Mary; or “bloody drunk” meaning “fired up and ready for a fight, and in references to the war of the roses, ‘of the blood’.
The thing is, that nowadays many swear words have just become words in the english language, in some circles the F- word being used as punctuation and thrown into sentences wherever and whenever. In this case it seems to have lost all it’s impact and perhaps to those in those circles it is not offensive at all. To an outsider though it still has a sting.
The thing that really gets me is when people swear using the Lords name. It practically makes me wince! And the use of OMG seems common place too. I was very pleased to hear a teacher at my sons school being brought up for saying ‘Oh My God’ and the Head reminding him it is a Church school and so we say ‘Oh My Gosh’ instead! Again I think this is a case of the phrase becoming a normal figure of speech. When people say ‘Oh My God’ they are not deliberatley causing offense to God, it is just a figure of speech. So where do we draw the line?
Personally I use ‘bloody’ as I find it a good emphasis point when necessary (I don’t use it all the time!), but if I’m totally honest, I do feel cross with myself for using it.
So… is ‘bloody’ a swear word?