Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's Effing National Grammar Day!

I didn't start my day on the best foot possible. I don't know what the "bleep" I was thinking, but I got in the shower with no towel (notta one...and I prefer two) on the rack. And as I turned off the water, I stood there dripping wet and realized, not only did I NOT have a towel on the rack, but I didn't even have one in the bathroom. At least nothing bigger than a hand towel. I had one load in the dryer and another in the wash. Brilliant!

So what did I do? I shouted out swear words--but only in my head.
Side note: Did you know it's National Grammar Day, and in L.A. it's been declared No-Cuss Week?

As I stood there, swearing to myself in the bathroom, I couldn't help thinking about these two events.

I don't know about you all, but I'm terrible at swearing. My filter is MEGA strength. It's the elementary school teacher and mother in me. Cuss words rarely pass BY my lips because the filter is so strong. It doesn't even feel right. Not that I don't have friends who swear like truck drivers. I so do! (You know who you are.)

Speaking of...

I thought it best to go the Grammar Diva herself, Martha Brockenbrough, to ask about how grammar and swearing intermingle. Now, Ms. Brockenbrough is the creator of this fantastic National Grammar Day and The Society for Promotion of Good Grammar, and she wrote THIS awesome book. So, of course, she is in high demand at the moment. Hollah! I mean, really! She's, like, fresh off the jet with the Jo Bros and today her column "Celebrity Grammar Rehab" is front and center on the MSN page. She's a freakin' rock star.

So, how special do I feel to have received a reply from her on this very day? Pretty flippin' special. That's how much. (Thanks, Martha!)

I asked, on this National Grammar Day, during No-Cuss Week: Can a potty-mouth have good grammar?

Her reply: "You can be a potty-mouth and be grammatical. Hell yes!"

She also sent me the following links:

Something she wrote for Encarta about swearing...HERE

And a really interesting Defense of the F-Word by a really smart brain science/language guy...HERE

And now after reading those, I'm realizing I might need to reconsider my MEGA filter. What? Swearing can be good for my brain. And I can still be grammatical (well, that remains to be seen in the first place).

But, I've often thought about this as it relates to writing. Does the amount you swear in your own life equate, at all, to how much you do in your novel writing?

Tell me. I'm curious.

For me, although I seldom use swear words in my work, they do flow off the fingertips (as they relate to my characters) much easier than I can speak them out loud.


Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Hey Jolie, that Steven Pinker discussion on why we curse was FASCINATING!
Thanks for sharing it!

Cuppa Jolie said...

You'll have to thank the amazing Martha Brockenbrough for that one. But yes, fascinating!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

what a @#$%&@# Fabulous post! ;)

Kim Baker said...

Hey! I'm a former elementary school teacher AND a current mother, but I suspect I am also one of your truckdriver-like friends, yes?

Don't worry, I swear way more in real life than on the page (at least in this book).

Cuppa Jolie said...

You, Kim? One of my foul-mouthed firends? No? It makes me laugh. We are exact opposites. Where you swear more in real life than on the page, I'm the exact opposite.

Anonymous said...

I know definitively I'm one of the truck driver friends, but that said, I never ever swear in front of the children. Even in the moments where one might normally think to scream, "What the FAHHHH were you thinking??!" it actually doesn't occur to me. So I'm interested in this whole question of the different roles swearing plays - whether in your writing (clearly not a lot of cursing going on in my policy analysis), or in conversation (I find that there is a higher cuss word per sentence ratio with certain audiences and probably about particular topics). One thing is for sure, swearing is good for my mental health.