Swearing, It's not big, and it's not clever. Maybe.
Swearing, It's not big, and it's not clever. Maybe.
Mar 24 2011, 05:23 PM
Advice for the young at heart
Joined: 26-February 03
From: Essex, UK
Member No.: 33
Whilst ensuring you do not break forum rules (i.e. probably best not to list your favourite obscenities), I would be interested to hear your opinions on swearing/cussing/cursing.
I wouldn't say that I swear a lot. I'm not the kind of person to stick the f-word several times into one sentence, but I'd happily admit to swearing. I am always careful not to do so in front of people that do not like it, and I always ensure that there's nobody in ear-shot that would also be unhappy about it. I'm not out to cause offence...
But that's where my query really lies. Can a single word actually BE offensive? My opinion is that people can be offended by a word, but it isn't the fault of the word itself. The person has chosen (or been conditioned) to be offended. Randomly generate four letters and, eventually, you might get the F-word. What suddenly makes this combination of letters offensive? It is just a word.
Personally, if I try to remember moments when I have been offended by what a person has said to me, it never has anything to do with them 'effing and blinding'. Call me arrogant, or obnoxious, or ignorant, etc. and I am likely to feel the negative effects. But telling me to f*** off doesn't, for me, cause any more offence than telling me to get lost.
A few friends of mine will happily use any profanity they can think of... except the c-word. And, indeed, one in particular hates the word, and is extremely unhappy to hear it in any situation. I find this interesting: every single word is fine, every combination of letters is fine, except one. Gather up four innocent letters in a particular way and suddenly they become "harmful".
Should people be offended by language? Is it right to be? Is it petty, or archaic?
The rules of this forum promote correct use of the English language, and I whole-heartedly support that (I am not disputing the rules here, I am just using them as a point of reference). We are encouraged to write proper sentences to the best of our abilities - I think this is marvellous - and we are encouraged to avoid using "offensive" language because of the varying visitors to the site. A fair load of profanities have been censored in the past, and a handful have been allowed due to the situation/circumstances of the post. It all makes sense. But I do find the concept of 'bad language' (beyond the confines of this forum) to be interesting.
Here's another point...
As Mata writes in the forum rules: "Anyway, it's far more fun to be creative with your swearing, 'arsebuckets' is a favorite of mine". The word 'arse'/'ass' has joined the likes of 'damn', 'crap', 'bloody' and 'shag' (and, to a slightly lesser extent, 'bugger') as being pretty acceptable. Sure, they won't be found within children's television, but they all can be found in some pre-watershed programming (UK examples would be various soaps, some sit-coms, etc.). But twenty-years ago, this wasn't the case. The Harry Potter films - undeniably made to appeal to kids of many age groups - has 'bloody' and 'bugger' in them. So some swearing has become okay?
Except, obviously, the words themselves haven't evolved to become acceptable. Just social opinion of them. The "strongest" language (c-word, f-word) can be seen and heard fairly regularly in media now (the latter more than the former, admittedly), as long as there are sufficient warnings and ratings. But there was a time when neither would ever have been heard on television.
I have censored myself in this post when mentioning the words that are considered to be higher up the scale of profanity. And SOME of the media does the same. Interestingly, I read a comment from one broadcaster earlier today that mentioned cases where bleeping an obscenity had caused more complaints than they'd have predicted had they let it be heard. Everybody KNOWS what was said, covering up the word has never stopped an intelligent person from being entirely aware what it was originally, so why is that actually okay? Hearing it vs. knowing it? Hmm. But the point the broadcaster was making, was that the complaints were actually along the lines of: "Why are you treating us like fools? Don't pretend we are stupid by censoring this material. Don't assume what we will or won't find offensive."
In general, I think Radio 4 listeners have a high tolerance for swearing. We had 20 or so complaints in this case. But we attract just as many when we bleep or edit out swearing. Listeners argue we are insulting their intelligence and censoring when we do it. - Peter Rippon, BBC
Will there come a point when the REALLY BAD WORDS are no longer censored, but just provide us (as they already do) with a negative extreme in our language.? Will 'damn' edge its way into Peppa Pig and The Tellytubbies, and the f-word into Eastenders? Probably, to some extent at least. It is fair to say that each generation is more liberal with language use, so perhaps eventually there will be nobody left who finds the words offensive. And we don't really seem to have made any new swear words to take the place of those we don't care about anymore.
So... thoughts, please
Some interesting reading (I guess all NSFW due to language; containing words that you MAY find 'offensive'):
BBC Editorial Guidelines - Language
The XXX Factor: An uncensored history of swearing on TV
BBC Blog: To swear or not to swear
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