We Should Use More Profanity In Writing

And perhaps everywhere else…

Attila Vágó
11 min readNov 20, 2022

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Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Why use a bad word when you can use a good word, is something that anti-profanity parrots like to repeat incessantly, besides parents, priests, and prudes. But I would like to challenge that age-old snobbishly aristocratic attitude towards language. Not because I perhaps was a sailor in a past life and with a reduced rum intake in the modern world, in favour of clean water and Nespresso coffee of course, I must feel angrier and thus need to express myself less scholarly. No, it hasn’t a skunks’ balls to do with any of that. Or with the fact that I wasn’t hugged enough as a child. It’s about something far closer to my heart. It’s about language and expression of feelings and thoughts.

As someone who speaks, not one, not two, but three languages, all fluently, I think I possess some authority to have an opinion on language, what works and doesn’t work when expressing one’s self. I shift between Hungarian, Romanian, and English on a daily basis. Note how all three languages are part of a different language family, which in itself has some surprising benefits. For instance, I found that while in Portugal, I was able to read and understand about 50% of the text anywhere I went. To me, that was surprising, but in hindsight it shouldn’t have been. Language is an incredibly powerful tool, and the more of them you speak, the more comfortable you’ll feel moving in society or across countries and continents.

And yet, we don’t use language at full capacity

And this is where profanity or swearing comes in. One of my friends read my first draft of a novel I wrote in 2020, and made a remark on the amount of bad words I used. Now, for context, she was raised in a religious Orthodox family and while she herself does not identify much with religion, to this day, whenever she’s about to use a swear-word, she takes a small pause, lowers her voice, and utters the word with a built-in apology for resorting to it. Her question was, whether I thought that profanity enhanced the message or the value of the writing or not?

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Attila Vágó

Staff software engineer, tech writer, author and opinionated human. LEGO and Apple fan. Accessibility advocate. Life enthusiast. Living in Dublin, Ireland. ☘️