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At our house, I'm a word superhero. I spin thunderbolts of "please" and "thank you." I rescue — mostly myself — with "sorry" and "will you forgive me?" I've even unburied loved ones after word barrages from others.
But I have no tolerance for crass words.
I want to zap swear words and their ugly cousins and send their ashes into a dark hole somewhere in the outer-universe. I feel that swear words make an otherwise intelligent person sound uneducated. There are a lot more factual ways to say things.
But I do understand the lure for the crass. There is a sense of power behind those words. Take it from a toddler who shouts, "No! Mine! Stop!" to shock and amaze those around him. Just like toddlers, we sometimes think that powerful and ugly words can fight the grotesque in life's situations. But in my experience they rarely do. Usually the power that crass words generate is more anger. More frustration.
Enter: the family swear word.
A family swear word is a predesignated word that is humorously off limits — and yet used on a regular basis. It's a word that sounds funny and nothing like a real swear word. The best family swear words are formed when someone in the family merges two words. Take our family swear word: "googie." It was first uttered by my then 2-year-old daughter. And even though I hadn't a clue what she was talking about, I could tell there was something special about the word. Googie is like the love child between Google and Herbie the Love Bug — and who wouldn't want to see that baby?
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