The more I think about it, the more it seems Big Pun was a harbinger of necessary change when the word “money” was used as an explicitive in one of his lyrical missives.
Please allow me to back up and elucidate. In the song “It’s So Hard“, Pun plaintively uses the line “Money, not you again. Go that way!” It should be immediately obvious that he is not referring to actual currency, but rather using it as a metaphor for something else. Further exploration of the context reveals that Big Pun is being harassed by various people who claim to know him from his childhood in Brooklyn. Therefore, it can be extrapolated that Pun is using “money” to reference people of whom it is undesirable to be near in his life.
Unfortunately, due to his untimely death in 2000, we are unable to ask Pun to clarify his meaning.
We can, however, turn this idea to good use and posit alternatives for current explicit phrases and expressions in the English language. Please bear in mind, that I do not propose these changes out of any misguided attempt to clean up the language, rather, it is my wish to bring some meaning and relevance back into our use of salty language. It should also be kept in mind that, in this article, we are merely attempting to change explicitives, not pejoratives. In other words, we are only interested in those words we say to express dissapointment, accident, and displeasure, not those that insult, demean, or villify.
In order to choose new, relevant vocabulary we must examine the current crop of vulgarities. The majority of current phrases relate to bodily function, sex, or damnation of…well, just about anything.
However, these words are not entirely relevant to today’s lifestyle. We, as modern people, realize and accept much more the necessity and eventuality of bodily functions. While they may not always be pleasant to those around, they are natural and normal. It seems somehow indecent to relate them purely to the vulgar, as if our own bodies were too foul to be bearable. Likewise with sex, modernity has brought new understandings of both the physical and emotional sides of sex. (The spiritual third side, however, is still a morass of miscomprehension and denial, which may serve as an argument for the continued inclusion of certain phrases in the catalogue of profanity we are building.) Why then, should words pertaining to sex, and the physical acts of sex be relegated to rude status, never to see the light of day, save for pointless and hollow euphemisms which are entirely transparent? Also, why must we continue to use a verb meaning “to banish into Hell for all eternity” as an exclamation of disappointment?
Would it not be far, far better, to use as explicatives, words that hold some meaning for us; words that are, at their source, a direct metaphor for the trials that plague us daily?
To that end, I propose three changes: First, in lieu of words that emphasize bodily function, I offer “FEMA”, the American organization in charge of disaster relief. After all, the end results of bodily functions and FEMA intervention are often the same. Further, in place of acts of sex, I propose the word “money”. Much as Big Pun did in his songs, we can use “money” when we are distressed in line at the bank or when we find that the car has had yet another tire go flat. And, in fact, money and sex are often related in that without the former, one may find the latter scarce. Finally, in place of damnation, let us use the word “politics” as I believe feelings of despair or disenchantment often stem directly from our national governments.
These are not perfect solutions, lacking as they do, the ability to morph into any grammatical form at a moment’s notice that their predecessors had, but I have faith that with fair and longstanding use, the ability will be gained. In the meantime, however, I propose these changes merely as a way of opening the door to dialogue and discussion, in an attempt to bring relevance back to the nature of our collective potty-mouths.