I didn’t mean to call you a mushroom. I just meant you’re a jerk.

(Self editing note to my English-teaching friends – the title of this entry used to be “I didn’t mean to call you a mushroom.  I just meant you’re a jerk that I don’t really like.”  However, I recognized the improper usage of “that” and the presence of some extraneous words.  Duly noted and corrected.)

Today, I want to talk about language.  Not French or Cantonese, but the concept of words that we use to communicate.  One particular word, actually.

In the spectrum of bad words, I think (and this is just my opinion) this one ranks on the low end, slightly above heck.  By itself, it seems to be an appropriate expletive for when you do dumb things like smash your thumb with a hammer: “____, that hurt!” or need that extra bit of adjective when you say “now that’s a ____ shame.”  Place the word God in front of it, and you slide rapidly into the other side of the spectrum, where there be dragons. 

We all know that the pen is considered by some to be mightier than the sword, that words carry tremendous power. 

But why does this particular word, these 4 letters set in a specific order, offend?  Is it that the letters are unpleasant to look at?  Not really.  Is that the sound is degrading?  The engineers and beavers who build structures that block water from flowing don’t seem to think so.  So why is this word “bad?”

I really don’t know the answer, except that it is.

Some words should just be considered bad.  The c-word, the n-word.  Those I heartily agree with.  But I wonder if it’s time for some new “bad” words.

Mushroom is a candidate.  I consider mushrooms the ultimate insult, especially to pizza, quiche and soup.  

And I just don’t like the word frequent.  My tongue trips on it.  So I’d love to be able to use it with deliberate, shocking impact – “I am so frequenting angry!”

Can I become part of the club that make these decisions?

That would be so darn cool.

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