Profanity in Teen Ink This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 31, 2012
Author Colin Weinshenker makes solid points in support of swearing in his opinion piece “Profanity in Teen Ink.” He argues well, and the essay is logically sound. Still, I disagree. Cursing should not be part of Teen Ink.

First, swearing in your writing decreases the quality of your work. It does not help describe ideas or objects more accurately. Sure, it adds pizazz, but at what cost? It makes the writer sound like someone who can’t express himself without it. He turns to swearing when he doesn’t have anything better to say. “It towered over him, making him feel small and insignificant” is better than “It was f**king huge, and he felt really f**king small.” The whole point of writing is finding the right word and putting it in the right place to make the reader smile or laugh or cry. A curse can be substituted for anything and make sense, sort of. It’s a cheap way out of finding the right word.

Second, swearing is unsophisticated. When you write, typically the goal is to sound intelligent. I fully approve of first-person fiction including swears if that’s how the character is supposed to talk. After all, he or she is the one telling the story. But otherwise, in writing and dialogue, profanity makes you sound dumb. When you walk down the street and hear someone yelling into his cell phone, cursing his head off, I’ll bet you don’t think, Gee, that seems like a smart guy.

Cursing represents a side of life that shouldn’t come near education, in my opinion. Education teaches you to speak correctly and eloquently, and swearing falls under neither of those categories. We swear when we speak casually, everyone does. I do. You do. Don’t deny it. But articles in Teen Ink should not sound the way we talk. They should be polished and sophisticated.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Jack_Denim This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm
Your use of f**king was greatly stacking the deck. Excepting dialogue and first-person narration, nobody is rooting for  using swearing that way. I could make a similar horrible line without swearing ("It was really, really huge, and he felt really, really small"). That doesn't mean that swearing is always the right option. You just used the words in a stupid way and said "See? These words are stupid." The English language is wonderfully flexible, but by cutting of... (more »)
KiraKira said...
Nov. 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm
I have to disagree. Profanity in writing can and should be used at the author's discretion and/or when the author feels it is appropriate. You state that 1) "swearing is unsophisticated" and 2) articles in Teen Ink "should not sound the way we talk". However, you contradict yourself by earlier stating in the article that you approve of "first-person fiction" that includes profanity in order to represent how the character is supposed to talk. At least 13 pages of... (more »)
musebrat183 said...
Nov. 6, 2012 at 12:29 am
"When you write, typically the goal is to sound intelligent." While I agree with a lot of what you're saying here, I completely disagree with this statement. When you write, isn't the goal to get your point across as clearly as possible? Either way, this generalization weakens your argument. "But otherwise, in writing and dialogue..." Here I'm confused as to why you approve of narrators swearing but not other characters. In order to improve this piece,  I ... (more »)
Site Feedback