Rav Avigdor Miller on What is Lashon Nekiyah

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Q:
Chazal tell us that we should always make sure to speak lashon nekiyah, a clean language (Pesachim 3a). How does one make the determination of what is included in the category of clean or unclean language?

A:
Well, you start out when you’re a young child and your mother says to you, “Don’t say that!” If your mother tells you that, then you’ve started out on the road towards knowing what is not lashon nekiyah. And if your mother wants to wash your mouth out with soap, then you’ve surely received a very important lesson in the sugya of lashon nekiyah. That’s number one. שמע בני מוסר אביך ואל תיטוש תורת אמך. It’s a very important lesson, by the way. Your mother, at home, is your first teacher. Your first lessons are at home. Also, your father sometimes. 

And then you begin to learn outside the home as well. In Slabodka, they never said the word שלעכט, the word “bad.” They never said the word shlecht. Never. I was there six years. Six years – and they never said the word shlecht. “Not good,” they would say. But they never said shlecht. They never referred to a goy as a “sheigetz.” Because that’s a שקץ. The word “sheigetz” comes from the word שקץ, a disgusting creature. “Sheigetz” is sheketz. But a goy is not a sheketz. He’s a צלם אלוקים. He’s not the best picture of צלם אלוקים, but he’s actually a צלם אלוקים. So, in Slabodka, they called a gentile an ערל or a גוי – but they never said “sheigetz.” The word “sheigetz” is never found in Slabodka language. 

So, in a good environment, if you make sure to stay in a good environment, you’ll pick up what is called lashon nekiyah. 
TAPE # E-167