The Curse of Cussing

What’s the fuss about cussing? Joey Ayala takes on the subject with finesse. 

I’m not normally a user of the expression ptngna, but I do sometimes cuss in my head, to myself, beneath my breath. 

I cuss, sometimes aloud, in traffic, specially when some fellow lead-breather does something to show off his exemplary driving IQ.

I’ve cussed onstage at Conspi a few times, but in the context of underdog humor… mga ptngng prayle. That’s safe cussing. The prayle and mang-aaping kastila are all dead and gone, some surviving in our DNA.

When, sometime in the 70s, a drunk plainclothes soldier pointed a gun in my face, I did NOT feel like cussing. I still don’t feel like it now. I’m just glad he didn’t pull the trigger. If I cussed him at that moment, that wouldn’t be safe cussing.

Cussing can be conversational and casual. Ptangna kumusta ka na pare… but you can’t do this unless it is 100% natural and relaxed.

Cussing can be pure mimicry  – such as when children chase each other screaming Pakyu Pakyu without really knowing the word F-ck. They just saw this cussing in some American movie with people yelling what sounds like Pakyu in each other’s faces.

Cussing can be a sign of the speaker’s inner state – usually angry or frustrated or insulted. Ptangnang bstos nito a! People who chronically cuss for emotional release may have also have bad breath, bad teeth, bad body odor and bad digestion – possibly, these are the partners of chronic anger and frustration – acidic body, acidic state of mind.

Sometimes cussing can be an expression of admiration. Ptangna, ang ganda…

Cussing can be functional. I’ve observed the masterful use of cussing from veterans of theater and dance. Most memorable cussing from a respected actor-director-mentor: Hoy! Mga ptngnanyo! Wala ba kayong mga byag!?

A famous kano life coach cusses to get straight into his clients’ guts. What the f-ck is holding you back? So, call the snvabtch!

Once, as a director of a play, I FELT like cussing, not out of anger but as a device to catch the attention of a giggling gaggle of high school actresses. However I wanted to save energy so, instead, tossed a folding chair in their general direction. Just to get their attention. 

Cussing as a sonic phenomenon is vibratory – it creates resonance in sympathetic or similar frequencies. If you want to address someone, use his frequency , his sound, his emotional language. I suppose if you want to communicate to people who feel like cussing, cuss.

 I view most of PRRD’s historical cussing as “he’s cussing FOR me, salamat po!” and “I’m glad it’s not me he’s cussing!” And thank you for ripping the dropsheet of political correctness kuya! Ptngnanilanglht!

If you should ever feel like cussing but don’t want to, for whatever reason, then you can use subsitute words. Putong inamoy. Anak ng pustiso, pating o petsay, basta P ang simula.

The substitute words don’t even have to sound like the real, potent, mthrfckn words. They can be safe. Ay saging.

But where’s the joy in that?

(Joey Ayala was born in Bukidnon, grew up in Cubao, lived in Davao for 17 years, and currently ages gracefully in Quezon City as a singer-speaker-at-large practicing cultural therapy on the side.)