Monday, September 18, 2006

Shut Up v. Shut Your Mouth

This is an interesting conversation that my wife and I had. It's amazing how 16 years can go by and you still come up with new stuff that you hadn't considered before. Here's the gist of it: Which is worse, 'Shut up' or 'Shut your mouth'?

I happen to think that yelling at someone to shut up is more insulting and demeaning. My wife thinks that yelling at someone, "Shut your mouth" is more aggressinve and therefore a worse thing to do. I won't tell our kids to shut up but I say shut your mouth all the time. My wife will tell them to shut up and when she really loses it she'll yell shut your mouth. The funny thing is, because of the way I see the two phrases, when she's really losing it I think she's finally gotten some self control back.

Anyhow, like most things there is no answer. The reason I bring this up is because we as writers have preconceived notions about what things mean. We could be wrong.

4 comments:

Mouth of Sauron said...

I tend to agree with you rather than your wife on this point, but I guess it also depends on tone of voice.

For instance, you could say "Shut up" in a playful tone that wouldn't anger anyone, but if you say "Shut your mouth!" in the same way it sounds weird.

Also, I think many people use "Shut your mouth" when they want to let the person they are saying it to know they mean business.

Scriptorius Rex said...

That was kind of my point. When I'm going to say it, it is with purpose and intention i.e., I want to immediately change behavior. My wife tends go get flustered and just says what come to mind.

But you also bring up some proof of my main point: People see things they say very differently. You, being my favorite Aussie (sorry to hear about Steve Irwin btw, he was a favorite around our house) would probably not know that in the southern United States it is very popular to say 'shut your mouth' with a playful smile, usually after someone has said something a bit risque.

Scriptorius Rex said...

Crikey, you're not the Mouth of Sauron I thought you were. I had no idea there were more than one. MOS is an Aussie who posts at theonering.com a lot. My mistake. (Still sad about Steve Irwin.)

Son #2 (I am the bomb.com!) said...

Shut up is meaner than shut your mouth.....O.o