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It really intrigues me how certain words become taboos, while some other (with the same meaning, mind you) remain acceptable in our civil society.
How is it that a certain word “sh!#” is a strict No-No, while “crap” is still acceptable? How about “Damn it” v/s “Darn it”. Both are just words formed by a combination of alphabets – in the latter example above it’s just one letter replaced with another!
Then, we have euphemisms for almost everything that may not sound so good to the ears or to the sensitive parts of our brain. Some of the euphemisms are needed to reduce the shock factor associated with certain events – our heart being so prone to such. So, we have phrases like “Passed away” or “is no more” instead of a crisp and straight “died”. So far so good, but then we take it a little too far with the literary exhibitionism of being good. If you’re good at heart you would use the right language as they say.
Well, obviously it is for the need for us to be accepted in the circles that we want to belong to. Broader the circle, more generally accepted the behavior needs to be. If you want to be popular with everyone in the world, better be clean as white (and that also explains why every popular celebrity has as many hate sites as fan sites – What one may like others may hate). And the so-called-right language and good mannerisms make for a good facade. So, that explains why Euphemisms exist.
However, this turns upside down when one goes to a bar with a set of friends (smaller and specific circle). The behavior that is the minimum acceptable behavior outside the bar (that circle) can easily make you a laughing stock! The need for acceptability forces you to be something else. White is suddenly Grey, people doubt who you really are if you’re actually behaving (and may be you are!) all white!!
Okay, after that slight digression, I come back to the taboos. The taboos differ from place to place, age to age, gender to gender, and so on. We don’t have a reason to believe that sex was a taboo in ancient times, then it became a big one, and now it’s somersaulting into gaining a widespread & general acceptability as well – not everywhere but still in general. Certain things have always been sinful though – infidelity and theft, for instance.
But, not every taboo is equivalent to a sin and that’s where I get intrigued. It’s just the words and their usage that really intrigues me. We hear those “beeps” on TV and see these “wild” characters like #$% in print so often for things as mundane as someone talking about need to take a natural call. That’s so natural, why does it become a taboo? And again, why is it that “taking pi$$” is not acceptable while “answering a natural call is”?