Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shut Up vs. Be Quiet

Shut up screams urgency.  Be quiet says, tone it down or in some cases...whisper.  Shut up means stop talking right this instant, close your mouth, I don't want to hear another word.

I live in a shut up household.

Recently I've discovered that many people find the words shut up to be offensive and insulting.  Shut up is down right rude. People prefer that be quiet or shushing should be used instead.  I think it's all in the tone.

"Amaya...shuuuuut...up," Rio says, drawing the sentence out like he's not going to be gullible and fall for any of her tricks again. She can't fool him.


"SHUT UP!" Amaya yells, standing two inches from Rio's face, ears steaming, at her breaking point. Little brothers are so very irritating. 

Not nice.

So the tone is rude, I think, not the word.  I could shush my children abruptly, dismissively, or hastily in the middle of a sentence and be just as thoughtless. But why? When a soft or firm shut up does the trick effortlessly.



  1. SHUT UP! is always yelled at surprise parties before the unsuspecting guest of honor arrives. I don't think shushing would be as effective.

  2. I can relate to this post! I've been told I shouldn't say shut up by people. I probably do say it too much though.

  3. In Japanese there are several ways to say the same thing. Sumimasen is the lowest form of apology whereas Gomen nasai is a profound apology usually reserved in situations where someone is deeply offended. I imagine the same thing is going on here. The intricacies of language and communication are fascinating.

  4. I remember taking French in High School and it always sounded better when the teacher told us
    "Ferme la Bouche". I hope I'm spelling that right.
    She meant it and said it firmly, but it sounded so nice.
    Maybe a new language lesson? Non?

  5. The nice thing about knowing a second language. Being able to tell my kids to "shut up" without anyone knowing what I was saying.

  6. I was raised to think "shut up" was a bad word. I was often heard scolding other children when they said it, that "oooo, you said a bad word!" Then I grew up. And got over myself.

    I took spanish and often heard my teacher saying, "Ciate la boca!"

  7. Lol, Dafeena! I need to learn shut up in another language.
    Shut up was a bad word in my house when I was growing up, so I can cuss like a sailor in front of my kids, but I just can't get the words "shut up" to roll off my tongue. However, shush, zip it, be quiet, and stop talking come out of my mouth a million times a day!!!