By Josh Fortune

Photo By Aoibh Ni Bhradaigh

Profanity is inherently the most poetic form of language that you could use. Never has ‘fuck’, when taken out of or put into a certain context, had the most jaw-droppingly versatile meaning:

  • As an expletive (“Fuck! I missed my train”)
  • As something to say when you’re neglecting another thing or situation (when combined with ‘it’) (“You can leave that thing for later on… go on, fuck it”)
  • As something that you can/could not/do not (or reversibly cannot/could/do) give (“I don’t give a fuck about Leo Varadkar, ‘cuz the chap couldn’t give a fuck about me”)
  • As a sign of flaccid defeat (when you forgot to bring a raincoat and it looks as if God has a UTI outside: “Fuck”)
  • As something you might hear in an intimate moment (self-explanatory)
  • As a joyful remark, usually when shocked with good news (“Ah fuck! Congratulations on your job promotion!”)
  • As a noun for a downright bad ‘un [“He is some (scary) fuck all right” (other adjectives are obviously superlative but pretty useful)]
  • As an object in of itself (“You see that little fuck over there? What does that do?”)

And so on and so forth. The same goes with shite or shit. Or any other curse word you could imagine.

They take on a unique symbolic complexity, and are used in a delightful variety of ways, presenting or protecting a number of one’s ideas; giving you a podium for one thought, and disqualifying the other. This is particularly accurate when you hear the curse word used by different voices, and for differently inflected marks of emphasis: my personal penchant is when people from the East Midlands say ‘fuck’ or ‘twat’. In fact, Sleaford Mods captured this so eloquently when they replaced one word from an ABBA song with ‘fuck’ in some social media video; e.g. “The Winner Takes Fuck All”. Cussing is something that humanity is both deeply infatuated and engaged with, it amplifies the English language, cranking it all the way up to Eleven.

Profanity’s use and its omnipresence in our minds can only prove this: when I hear some old dusty prune talking about how she and her husband are not cursers, it baffles me. How can you willingly deprive yourself of one of life’s simple outlets of joy? I am aware that it is very easy to pigeonhole profanity to the socially-constructed vulgarities its members have accrued over history, or to its overuse subtracting away from its potency, or even opting to use another word that is probably more economic or true.

But fucking hell:

Q: isn’t that the point of poetic language?

A: To present and treat a thing as it is not for the sake of a more beautiful, aesthetic, and meaningful purpose:

To describe somebody as a fucking melon from time to time.

Josh Fortune

When he decides to pull the finger out, Josh Fortune (he/him) writes a fair bit. You can guffaw at his published work in the Martello Journal and the Madrigal Press, or call him a gurrier whenever you want to. He enjoys Sunday walks pints, Kate Bush, and words. He dislikes bananas and Ryan Tubridy.