I think that often, the "dirty" association is not in the word or object that is written or discussed, but in the mind of the person reading or interacting.
Take the word, for example...."panty" (or the less gender-specific term, "chaddi", which is the word in the news today.)
On a bus recently, I saw the words "panties" being spelt as such in English, but as "fanties" in Kannada. I made a light-hearted post to this effect on my blog in Citizen Matters.
But a reaction from a friend set me thinking about it, and I decided to "unpublish" the post. The reason for this was that I realized that the word might have different associations for different people, and certainly, my post was not serious enough for me to want angry, negative comments from readers. It would be a case of a molehill becoming a mountain!
Am I guilty of "copping out"? I am pondering over this now.
...I don't think so. If I had made a serious post, I suppose I would have stood by it, but this was just a kind of humourous observation about how the word was spelt differently in different languages.
On the other hand, though, I am musing on the fact that I feel it might be a sensitive issue (especially at this time) and didn't feel it worth getting a lot of flak about, so in that sense, perhaps I am guilty of moral cowardice...
Am I being prudent, or being a coward?
Where does "being sensitive to others' reactions" turn into "being afraid of others' reactions"?
In fact, the different associations that words have for people is often the cause for humour; when I say something in all innocence, and it brings other associations to the hearer's mind, that results in a laugh.
Read this limerick:
There was a young man called Reese
Who said, "Madam, if you please,
It would give me great bliss
If while attending to this
You paid some attention to these!"
Is there any "dirty" word in that? No. But I have never yet recited that limerick to anyone that did not result in at least a smile! So, it's the association the words "this" and "these" have, that results in the joke being carried across.
So, I feel that very often, "dirty" in words is often in the mind of the one who is reading/hearing that word....
No clear answers after musing for a while....but I will not publish that post now, but if any of you want to see the spelling of the word in English and Kannada, in the ads on the buses, you just have to go to my Photobucket site! But please understand, that's all there is to it...an observation that the same word is phonetically spelt differently in Kannada.