January 14, 2011


"Mom, I know some really bad words...but I don't use them."

"There are some different bad words out there. It's good to know them, and know not to use them. What are some that you've heard?"

"This one is so bad, I can't even say it. I'll spell it." (hides head under covers) "f-u..."

("Oh, I guess she does know this one", I think to myself).


("Hmmm...guess she doesn't!").

It takes a hearing loss to turn a simple rite of passage, like learning swear words, into a lesson in listening and speech discrimination! Hadley is still such an innocent that the worst words we hear in our house are along the lines of "stupid" and "meanie". Up until now, she's typically learned bad words through books ("Damminit!" she muttered one day as she hit her head while getting in the car. "What word was that, Hadley?" "Harry Potter said it."). Our conversations have focused more on being appropriate and proper pronunciation ("The /n/ in 'damn' is silent, Hadley.") But "f-u-n-d"... this one required some further investigation.

I'm still not exactly sure what transpired, but it appears a friend shared the word with Hadley in a typical "what swears do you know?" conversation. Hadley couldn't hear her friend very well (this happened at lunch), and was relying on contextual clues to fill in the gaps. She heard the first sound of the word, flipped through her internal file of known vocabulary, and decided that 'fund' was the swear. She didn't want to risk asking her friend to repeat the word, in fear of being overheard by an adult (so she had heard enough of the conversation to infer that this conversation was headed into dangerous territory). I'm still not entirely convinced the friend herself knew the actual swear, but I gathered enough information to determine that Hadley used the skills she had to the best of her ability to follow along...and yes, to even contribute another word to their lesson in profanity. (Which she knew! Correctly!).

Hadley now knows that the F-bomb isn't a trust fund or mutual fund. Maybe her hearing misled her, perhaps her friend did think that "FUND!!" is what people yell out in anger or exasperation, and possibly it's a combination of the two. At least she won't be telling anyone to "fund off" or "shut the fund up"...whether that way or in its proper form. And I've suggested that the next time she wants to sit down and have a nice chat about all the more colorful words in the English language, she do so off of school property.

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