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[P]
'Foul' Language and the Modern Internet

By UncleMikey in Op-Ed
Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 03:55:18 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

This began as a comment on the 'Attacking Iraq Not Justified' article; at wiredog's suggestion, I've decided to post it on its own to see what people think.

There was a time when 'foul' language was relatively rare on the nets, or at least frequently bleeped out. Some of this was, I think, a matter of who was on the net -- mostly computer professionals and other highly educated types, with a smattering of college students from those schools who got 'enlightened' early. In the Jargon File, Eric S. Raymond even makes a point of saying, in the entry for 'fuck me harder', that such language is extremely rare in the hacker community.

Those days of a relatively 'clean' Internet, however, are long past. One need only skim any random K5 article's comments to see this.


With a few exceptions, the Seven Deadly Words are pretty much taken in stride, here, along with dozens of others that would not be considered tolerable in 'polite' company.

Some would probably say that this is part of a wider trend in society at large. Certainly, I do see a greater tolerance for 'bad' words now that I did growing up.

I have a theory, however, that this is, rather, one more way in which we who ride the 'Net compensate for the lack of 'inflection' possible even in HTML text. Lacking the ability to convey shades of meaning (particularly negative meaning) with tone of voice, profanity, obscenity, and scatology have become a fairly common substitute.

What, for example, conveys strong disagreement more clearly: "I'm sorry, sir, but I just don't think you've hit the nail on the head." or, "Excuse me? That's the most fucked up piece of shit I've ever heard in my life."

Or, for another example, both of the following phrases describe K5's late-November, early-December experience:

The old machine and it's array were a bit fragile, and when they got moved (without rusty knowing about it), they broke.

vs.

The old K5 shit the bed when some jack-off moved it. They didn't even fuckin' tell rusty they were moving it until after it was broken. What assholes.

The latter, however, more completely conveys the exasperation which many of us here felt at the situation. Tone of voice is easier to reader to infer (and easier for the writer to imply).

This is not a call for a Kinder, Gentler 'net -- oh, fuck no :-). I know that some people, even here at K5, dislike the use of such language. Some even hide behind their dislike, refusing to answer someone's points and instead wasting their time on a language complaint. I don't necessarily see any need for K5ers to suddenly start moderating how they express their opinions. And anyway, that wouldn't make the 'Net more kind and gentle, all by itself, anyway. Read the polemics from the era of America's War for Independence, sometime, and you'll see just how well one writer can flame another without resort to such language.

No, this is just a quest for thoughts on why blue langauge should come so easily to our lips -- or fingers, rather -- without any attempt to gloss it over, when even five years ago we would at least have thrown in a few f**king asterisks. :-) I've told you my hypothesis, above. What's yours?

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Display: Sort:
'Foul' Language and the Modern Internet | 150 comments (140 topical, 10 editorial, 1 hidden)
Profanity (3.71 / 7) (#1)
by damiam on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 05:29:12 PM EST

I've never understood what people's problem is with profanity. Since the words themselves don't hurt anyone. it must be the meanings behind them. But those same meanings can almost always be expressed differently (for example darn, crap, f*ck) and no one has a problem with that. You can even say the same words in with different meanings (for example, 'Satan lives in hell', 'Sinners are eternally damned', 'The bitch had three puppies') and no one takes offence either.

So there's no problem with the meanings, and no problem with the words themselves, but there is a problem when you put them together? That just doesn't make sense to me.

Yes... (none / 0) (#43)
by CyberQuog on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 03:50:26 PM EST

I hate when people go "f***" or "sh*t"...why not just throw in the rest of the letters? Everybody allready knows what word your trying to use, spell it out. Does the left out "I" or "U" really change anything...
-...-
[ Parent ]
Not that I disagree with you...(OT) (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by Macrobat on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 06:37:36 PM EST

...but there are some things that are (relatively) harmless in and of themselves that become dangerous when you mix them. Ammonia and bleach come to mind, as do water and magnesium. Pointing at someone isn't illegal, neither is firing a gun. But firing a gun while pointing at them...well, didja see Pulp Fiction?

Still, I agree with most of your post.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Do it for the kids! (none / 0) (#92)
by scanman on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 03:02:15 PM EST

It's all part of the adult conspiracy to keep kids from learning about sex. Same with F*** and the like - if a kid doesn't know about the word, he'll never walk up to someone and say, "What does fuck mean?"

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

Profanity? (none / 0) (#122)
by epcraig on Sat Dec 29, 2001 at 08:54:36 PM EST

Profanity was originally (might still be) derived from "profaning the name of the Lord thy God".

Now there might be some who worship Fuck and Shit, but really, can't you use a word that accurately describes what you mean?
There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org
[ Parent ]

Correct (none / 0) (#131)
by UncleMikey on Mon Dec 31, 2001 at 10:36:44 AM EST

That's why I use the broader term 'foul language' in the headline; I'd hoped others would follow that lead. I saw someone's (yours?) diatribe on the subject elsewhere, and was persuaded by the argument.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]
Hobby Horse (none / 0) (#141)
by epcraig on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 07:27:14 PM EST

I'm complemented, of course, although the warm fuzzies are mitigated by the knowledge that I'm not the only poster to ride this hobby horse (on the other site, at least).
There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org
[ Parent ]
overuse of profanity (4.62 / 16) (#2)
by Delirium on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 05:37:27 PM EST

The latter, however, more completely conveys the exasperation which many of us here felt at the situation. Tone of voice is easier to reader to infer (and easier for the writer to imply).
But at the same time, the latter sounds like it was written by a middle-school kid who just learned how to curse. The former more completely conveys the actual situation, rather than forcing us to infer what happened from an exasperation-filled string of expletives.

Now certainly profanity may serve a useful communicative purpose, but its overuse destroys any benefit it might've had. And in this particular example, I disagree entirely with your view - the non-profanity-filled version is far superior.

That would depend... (3.75 / 8) (#10)
by UncleMikey on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 06:28:44 PM EST

...on whether you were trying to convey technical details, or convey your emotions about the situation.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]
Re: That woud depend... (4.57 / 7) (#52)
by TheAJOfOZ on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 07:42:26 PM EST

on whether you were trying to convey technical details, or convey your emotions about the situation.

And that is the real issue here. If you merely want to express frustration or anger, then swear words are quite effective. However, they are horribly ineffective if you actually want your words to have any persuasive influence. For instance, consider the following argument:

Those Americans are the biggest bunch of shitheads. They come into our country fuck up our economy with all their fucking bullshit and then leave us for fucking dead.

Compared with:

The American government need to adjust their international relations policy as it is highly aggrevating other countries and straining international relations. In the case of Argentina, for example, their advice on economic policy was misguided and likely motivated by greed and other factors, rather than by what is best for Argentina. To worsen matters, when the economic policy fails they withdraw from the country to save face, leaving the country in a complete state of ruin.

It's obvious that the latter is far more persuasive as it presents the image of an intelligent person who has thought about the statements their making. The former sounds like a person who is highly frustrated at America and is blowing off steam. The first argument would mostly be disregarded (other than acknoledging that there is anger and frustration) because when people are annoyed they say things they don't mean, so it is impossible to tell if the writer really disliked all Americans.

Of course, having said this, it should be noted that in reality, the second writer was completely uninformed about anything to do with economics and world politics. However, by carefully selecting words, the writer has made him or herself appear to be highly informed and without other knowledge of the situation, would most likely convince the reader that America's economic policy was lacking.

Coming back onto topic though, the ability to carefully select words and avoid words which make it sound like you are uninformed or ranting is a powerful persuasive technique and one that is serverly lacking in a lot of people these days. K5 is a perfect example of this as it is an enviornment for discussion as opposed to ranting and sound persuasive arguments are encouraged rather than misguided, uninformed opinions. Even on K5 though, we see a large amount of foul language despite the fact that it degrades the persuasive impact of the writing and makes it appear far less thought out.

I would suggest that this appearance of thought and effort in writing which doesn't use foul language comes from the fact that generally the whole style of writing is different from what would be oralized. Thus, to achieve this an extra step must be taken to convert the thoughts (which would by default come out in oral form) into an appropriate form for writing. The same effect is seen when comparing a piece of writing which contains spelling and gramatical errors to one which has been properly edited. Another example is formatting and structure. All these elements of writing are crucial to providing the maximum impact on the reader and communicating your opinions, rather than just expressing your frustration and anger.

[ Parent ]

To those who deplore profanity (4.09 / 32) (#3)
by rusty on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 05:45:34 PM EST

I only say, get off your lovemaking high horse and shut the intercourse up already. We have more than enough of that excrement about "proper manners" in the rest of our lives without rectal sphincters like you trying to ram that bovine-produced fertilizer down our throats here, too. In conclusion, please consume fecal matter and shuffle off this mortal coil.

PS: It ain't what you say, it's how you say it. ;-)

____
Not the real rusty

Saying Vs. Typing (3.28 / 7) (#5)
by delmoi on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 05:57:18 PM EST

I sware in writing all the fucking time. But, I hardly every use those kinds of words while speaking. This was made pretty apperant to me in a fiction writing class I took this summer. When it came time to read my paper, I found that I really didn't want to say the swarewords out loud. So I didn't.

Of course, everyone had a copy that they could read from, so they knew I was coping out. But whatever.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Re: Saying Vs. Typing (3.00 / 4) (#9)
by X-Nc on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 06:24:50 PM EST

Heh. I find that for me, I'm sorry to say, it is the other way around. I wish I didn't sware so much. Ever since I've had my son I've been working on not cussing so much but it's not as easy as I thought.

--
Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
[ Parent ]
As George Carlin put it: (2.77 / 9) (#7)
by onyxruby on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 06:04:29 PM EST

Here's a transcript of how one Mr George Carlin put it ever so eloquently several years ago in what might be his most famous monologue:

The big seven words you weren't allowed to broadcast were: Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits.

"I love words. I thank you for hearing my words. I want to tell you something about words that I uh, I think is important. I love..as I say, they're my work, they're my play, they're my passion. Words are all we have really.

We have thoughts, but thoughts are fluid. You know, [humming]. And, then we assign a word to a thought, [clicks tongue]. And we're stuck with that word for that thought. So be careful with words. I like to think, yeah, the same words that hurt can heal. It's a matter of how you pick them.

There are some people that aren't into all the words. There are some people who would have you not use certain words. Yeah, there are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven of them that you can't say on television. What a ratio that is. 399,993 to seven. They must really be bad. They'd have to be outrageous, to be separated from a group that large. All of you over here, you seven. Bad words. That's what they told us they were, remember? 'That's a bad word.' 'Awwww.' There are no bad words. Bad thoughts. Bad Intentions.

And words, you know the seven don't you? Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits, huh? Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that will infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits, wow. Tits doesn't even belong on the list, you know. It's such a friendly sounding word. It sounds like a nickname. 'Hey, Tits, come here. Tits, meet Toots, Toots, Tits, Tits, Toots.' It sounds like a snack doesn't it? Yes, I know, it is, right. But I don't mean the sexist snack, I mean, New Nabisco Tits. The new Cheese Tits, and Corn Tits and Pizza Tits, Sesame Tits Onion Tits, Tater Tits, Yeah. Betcha can't eat just one. That's true I usually switch off . But I mean that word does not belong on the list.

Actually, none of the words belong on the list, but you can understand why some of them are there. I am not completely insensitive to people's feelings. You know, I can dig why some of those words got on the list...like cocksucker and motherfucker. Those are...those are heavy-weight words. There's a lot going on there, man. Besides the literal translation and the emotional feeling. They're just busy words. There's a lot of syllables to contend with. And those K's. Those are aggressive sounds, they jump out at you. CocksuckerMotherfuckerCocksucker . It's like an assault, on you. So I can dig that.

And we mentioned shit earlier, of course. Two of the other 4-letter Anglo-Saxon words are Piss and Cunt, which go together of course. But forget about that. A little accidental humor there. Piss and Cunt. The reason Piss and Cunt are on the list is that a long time ago certain ladies said 'Those are the two I am not going to say. I don't mind Fuck and Shit, but P and C are out. P and C are out.' Which led to such stupid sentences as 'OK, you fuckers, I am going to tinkle now.'

And of course the word Fuck. The word Fuck, I don't really...well, this is some more accidental humor, but I don't really want to get into that now. Because I think it takes too long. But I do mean that. I mean, I think the word fuck is an important word. It's the beginning of life, and, yet it's a word we use to hurt one other, quite often. And uh, people much wiser than I have said, I'd rather have my son watch a film with two people making love than two people trying to kill one other. And I of course agree. I wish I know who said it first, and I agree with that. But I would like to take it a step further. I would like to substitute the word fuck, for the word kill in all those movie cliches we grew up with. 'Okay Sheriff, we're gonna fuck ya now. But we're gonna fuck ya slow.' So maybe next year I'll have a whole fuckin' rap on that word. I hope so.

Uh, there are two-way words, but those are the seven you can never say on television. Under any circumstances you just can not say them ever, ever ever, not even clinically. You can not weave them in the panel with Doc and Ed and Johnny, I mean it's just impossible, forget those seven, they're out.

But, there are some two-way words. There are double-meaning words. Remember the ones your giggled at in sixth grade? 'And the cock crowed three times.''Hey, the cock the cock crowed three times. It's in the bible.' There are some Two-way words, like it's okay for Kirk Goudy(sp?) to say 'Roberto Clemente has two balls on him.' But he can't say, 'I think he hurt his balls on that play Tony, don't you? He's holding them. He must have hurt them by God.' And the other two-way word that goes with that one is prick. It's okay if it happens to your finger. Yes, you can prick your finger, but don't finger your prick. No, no."

Credit goes to this site for their transcript of his famous speach. That being said, I don't mind a little swearing to accentuate a point, but will simply dismiss out of hand anything that is chock full of swearing.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

Um... (2.40 / 5) (#12)
by UncleMikey on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 06:31:54 PM EST

...I linked to that transcript for a reason. There was no reason to plagarise it here.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]
Plagiarism (3.25 / 4) (#16)
by onyxruby on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 07:07:59 PM EST

How can it be plagiarism when I clearly gave credit to the author and source? Let me call upon Dictionary.com to define plagiarism for you.
plagiarism n 1: a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work 2: the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own.
If your going to flame me at least make sure flaming me for something I did. I think it's counterproductive to flame someone on an Internet based story that you wrote that bemoans a decrease in Internet civility.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

Perhaps... (none / 0) (#100)
by xriso on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 12:02:57 AM EST

Perhaps "Copyright infringement" was the intended phrase.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
Looks like fair use to me. [n/t, IANAL] (none / 0) (#117)
by Scandal on Fri Dec 28, 2001 at 05:53:42 PM EST

IANAL! Really!

*Scandal*


[ Parent ]
Dirty Words, Dirty Minds (3.31 / 19) (#11)
by SPrintF on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 06:30:48 PM EST

Most "contributors" to Internet content, to weblogs in particular, are poor writers. Their writing style reflects their casual speaking style, and, in turn, their sloppy thinking style. If they are inarticulate, you can reasonably conclude that they're stupid. If they swear a lot, you can conclude that they have a limited vocabulary, and that they rely heavily on what little they know.

Most people today aren't readers, let alone writers. The decline of language on the Internet is due to the influx of more, and more stupid, people. Intelligent discourse is diluted by trolls and flamers.

What a pretentious ass... (2.86 / 15) (#17)
by switchfiend on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 07:58:50 PM EST

Your opening statement about "contributors" (I'm inferring that the quotes were added to show a sarcastic meaning" to Internet content being poor writers is certainly valid.

I would go so far as to say that most people in general (certainly those in America) are poor writers.

You then proceed to draw two assinine assumptions about people; that inarticulate people are stupid, and that vulgar words are used by those with a limited vocabulary.

Deep down I hope you were over-generalizing, but your tone doesn't seem to be humurous.

First off, inarticulate speaking (and writing) can come from a myriad of places. There is a large chasm between thought and speech. For many, the path between is not direct.

Secondly, and perhaps in my opinion more ridiculous, vocabulary has nothing to do with use of profanity.

Herny Miller swore more then most sailors I know. You would argue that he had a limited vocabulary?

Profanity exsits as a method for connoting emotion, as well as expressing ideas. It has its place in speech, as well as literature.

Many writers make use of their "writer's voice" when telling a story. In fact, most good writers have a very strong "voice". Profanity is by no means out of place in modern literature.

What does that have to do with weblogs, though. To be honest, not a whole lot. Weblogs are by no means formal communication mediums; much like email.

They are social gatherings, a sort of "virtual bar-room" where things are discussed. This isn't the Editorial section of the New York Times. This is someone at a party bringing up an issue, and a bunch of people talking about it.

"Decline of language on the Internet", I say good riddance. Pompous literatti can hole themselves up somewhere else, as discussion websites have never been a source of "high culture."

Oh yeah, and suck my fucking dick; cockbag

[ Parent ]
Better To Keep Silent... (1.56 / 16) (#19)
by SPrintF on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 10:28:17 PM EST

and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

Certainly, no one reading your post would doubt that you're a fool.

How does it feel to know that, every time you open your mouth, you broadcast how stupid you are?

Which was, of course, my original point. Stupid people can't express themselves intelligently. So, they fall back on their old, reliable, limited vocabulary of blue language. As you did, idiot.

[ Parent ]

Hint: You know the feeling (1.63 / 11) (#22)
by tyronefine on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 10:58:08 PM EST

How does it feel to know that, every time you open your mouth, you broadcast how stupid you are?



[ Parent ]

And you my friend are no better (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by Ebon Praetor on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 05:39:16 PM EST

You complained about how people fall back on their own limited lexicons, yet you managed to finish your post with the classic elementary school insult of "idiot." Your post was filled with almost random name-calling, you failed miserably to express a coherent point, and made yourself look the part of the fool.

More important than the language used is the idea being expressed. Next time, think before you post. It saves you some face and us some bandwidth.



[ Parent ]
Pot, meet kettle. (none / 0) (#112)
by Alarmist on Fri Dec 28, 2001 at 12:23:14 PM EST

Which was, of course, my original point. Stupid people can't express themselves intelligently. So, they fall back on their old, reliable, limited vocabulary of blue language.

I'm having a hard time deciding whether you're trolling. Stupid people may have a hard time expressing themselves intelligently, but intelligent people can express themselves stupidly with little effort. It is an unwarranted (though understandable, given your apparent intellectual elitism) assumption that anyone who writes poorly must be stupid.

Think before you write these things.


[ Parent ]

-1, pointless article, pointless subject. (1.25 / 12) (#18)
by suick on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 08:48:31 PM EST

"People like to swear on the internet, they used to not, but now they do! Is this a good thing? Sure it is!"

This has got to be the most inane article written in a while, and should have stayed a comment. Your article states the obvious about a topic which has no real value to discuss.

Ok, so now we now that most of k5 likes to swear. Woohoo. Was this profanity roll-call necessary?

order in to with the will I around my effort sentences an i of more be fuck annoying.
2, haven't read the FAQ (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by regeya on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 10:40:46 PM EST

had you read the FAQ, you'd know your comment needs to be an editorial comment, not a topical comment. I'd give you a 1 or 0 (I mean, all you're doing is flaming the author, which I think of as flamebait and crap, which in my book deserves a 0) but since you seem to be a clueless newbie I'll give you a 2.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

American English sucks (yet again) (4.25 / 12) (#23)
by MicroBerto on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 12:08:39 AM EST

When I was in high school, I was talking to my Russian friend, who exclaimed how much America sucks when it comes to swear words. We basically use the word 'fuck' for everything -- and it's totally overplayed! We are basically a language with TWO swear words - fuck and shit, and shit isn't even bad anymore!

Our country's jargon has evolved into a mess of simplicity and has lost all flavor when it comes to obscenity. Is there anything that can be done about it?

We really need to start borrowing words from Europe. Please send help!

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

ah ha! (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by gnovos on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 05:33:52 AM EST

Don't forget, "fuck" is one of only two infixes in the English language, thus is incredibly special. An infix, if you don't know, is a like a prefix or a suffix, but it goes beteen a word. Example: abso-fucking-lutely Infixes are common in many languages (especially Native American languages), but almost completely non-existant in English.

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]
What's the other one? (none / 0) (#30)
by mcherm on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 08:50:06 AM EST

What's the other one?

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]
Might be... (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by cyberdruid on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 11:25:11 AM EST

...the cleaner version of "fucking", i.e "freaking"? Abso-freaking-lutely.
Not that I believe that there are only two infix words anyway.

Hmmm... After some more thought on the subject, the best infix word is definitely Ned Flanders "diddly".

"Buenos-ding-dong-diddly-Dias."
--Mexican Flanders

[ Parent ]
Coming from an Anglo-centric background... (none / 0) (#54)
by John Shaft on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 08:15:36 PM EST

I would have said the other infix might be "bloody", as in "abso-bloody-lutely".

[ Parent ]
More than one... (none / 0) (#64)
by kaemaril on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 11:14:04 PM EST

  • Abso-fucking-lutely
  • Abso-fraggin'-lutely (from B5 :) )
  • Abso-damn-lutely
  • Abso-bloody-lutely
  • Abso-frigging-lutely
  • Abso-sodding-lutely
  • Anything Ned Flanders might say ;)
You could probably go on and on...


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Boring (1.00 / 1) (#31)
by MicroBerto on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 10:19:21 AM EST

Thanks for proving my point. I don't want a swiss-army-knife of a swear word - it has too many uses and gets overused and abused!

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]
...and Finnish? (none / 0) (#27)
by WWWWolf on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 07:04:26 AM EST

When I was in high school, I was talking to my Russian friend, who exclaimed how much America sucks when it comes to swear words.

Yep, that's true. Not enough swearwords. This was just one of the problems I noted when I was initially learning the language.

Besides, none of the English swearwords can ever have the effect and authority of Finnish word "perkele". And that's also because English doesn't do the 'r' correctly, English speakers get the sound all wrong =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


[ Parent ]
More (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by MicroBerto on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 10:21:02 AM EST

Oh come on, you can't start that story and not tell me what it means, how it's used, and how to pronounce it!

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]
Finnish swearwords (1.00 / 1) (#38)
by Freshmkr on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 12:00:50 PM EST

Oh come on, you can't start that story and not tell me what it means, how it's used, and how to pronounce it!

The best way to learn language is by observing it in the midst of rich contextual cues. Though I don't speak Finnish, you can definately hear examples of certain cursewords in action in these Finnish Star Trek parodies.

--Tom

[ Parent ]

On Star Wreck swearing... (none / 0) (#79)
by WWWWolf on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 08:41:24 AM EST

You forgot to mention that the best part to learn the cursing would be part 3 (Wrath of Romuclans) - people criticized it for having too much of it, but I think it was just perfect - the swearing has been blown WAY out of proportions so it's actually pretty funny.

It also has the greatest example of the use of the word "perkele" (captain Pirk says "voi perkele!" after listeining to the encrypted transmission - he says it the way that implies the worst thing imaginable has just happened, making it sound much worse than it actually is =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


[ Parent ]
"Perkele" (none / 0) (#78)
by WWWWolf on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 08:00:44 AM EST

"Perkele" means simply nothing other than "devil" or "Satan". (Even the Bible uses the word... =)

Pronouncation in ASCII IPA: /perkele/. (Finnish is written as pronounced, more or less). I would make a sound sample if I could, but my parents are sitting in the room right now... =)

The more r's, the better. =) The word uses the strong 'r', tongue in the front of the mouth (as in 'red', not 'more' or 'er' =)

If you want a good sample, get a couple of Finnish war movies on DVD =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


[ Parent ]
Not about the number of words (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by nidarus on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 09:13:50 PM EST

Actually, though English is a little lacking in the number of swear words, Russian doesn't have much more of them (actually, I think the number is more or less the same). Well, there are about two (three?) words for "pussy", one word for "cock", and one word for "fuck". Uh, as far as I can recall, of course (I am, unfortunately, not a big expert in this field). But still, you can create whole sentences out of these words. Heck (heck! ha!), you can consider it a mini-language (Russians call it "mat". To use cusswords is to "speak in mat"). Why?

a. All (or most?) of the swear words are used as out-of-context as "fuck" (and maybe "shit") is in English. ("don't you, pussy*, cunt me! have you, pussy, gone completely cock?" is a valid, and even common sentence)

b. A flexible grammar. This is actually more a cultural thing, since the English grammar is not extremely restrictive either, but while twisting the swear words in an original way in English (enfucked? shitation?) makes the swear words lose their impact, in Russian, being creative is allowed, and even encouraged.

* one of the words for "pussy" is used as a pause-word (or whatever it's called, i'm not a linguist), like "you know", "like", and, in speech "uh", "eh", etc.



[ Parent ]

Extending dictionary (none / 0) (#87)
by alder on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 01:58:53 PM EST

You gave a good introduction into usage of foul words in Russian, but, IMHO, your explanation is a bit incorrect. English and Russian belong to opposite language camps: English is an analytic language while Russian is synthetic. From the morphology point of view synthetic languages - those that encode functional complexity in the word domain - are considered "rich" laguanges. To compensate for being morphologically "poor" analitical languages must use composition and auxiliation to express/encode the same complexity. Hence it's not just a lacking of "appropriate" words, but rather language-specific inability to permutate them in a number of different ways. Add to this encouraged formation of purely synthetic words in Russian and you have the seeming ability of the language to create artificial foul derivative... with "endless" permutations of 3-4 basic words.

BTW, I think the most common expletive in Russian which you describe in (*) is actially a "whore". Though I could be wrong.

[ Parent ]

Yup, that's what I was trying (wanting?) to say (none / 0) (#96)
by nidarus on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 05:29:57 PM EST

However, the word I described in (*) means "cunt" (I know I translated it as "pussy". I think that wasn't precise), and can refer either to female genitalia or a prostitute (Or a "slut". Isn't there a similiar thing in English?), but in this case, it is taken entirely out of context and used as a pure curse word.

[ Parent ]
Whores (none / 0) (#118)
by big hairy mama on Sat Dec 29, 2001 at 05:34:41 AM EST

BTW, I think the most common expletive in Russian which you describe in (*) is actially a "whore". Though I could be wrong.

I'd have to agree with you - there was once a Russian exchange student at my school who *loved* to swear. "Whore" was probably the most common word that came out of his mouth (in English, at least), and it was very effective since his accent gave it a very hard "h" sound. "You ffuckhing Whhhorrre!"
Furthermore, I believe bacon prevents hair loss.
[ Parent ]

Speaking of Russian mat... (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by boris on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 12:03:20 PM EST

Russian is an amazingly powerful language; it encourages creative use by combining roots with prefixes and suffixes, allowing for subtle differences in meaning (in some cases, quite opposite meanings). Same with mat - while, as nidarus pointed out, it is built upon 3 basic words, its' expressive power is sufficient to describe any human emotion or activity. There's even a notion of "three-storey mat" (referring to really complex, non-trivial curses), but nowadays few are capable of such things.

My favourite example is the pair hujovo (~lousy) - ohuitel'no (~hilarious), both derived from hui (cock). Another word, unique in its' versatility and expressiveness, is pizdetz. It denotes the utmost degree of something, with either positive or negative connotations (more commonly negative, I have to admit :-) It can be used to describe an irrepairable failure of equipment, a moral or financional breakdown, a very strong urge (e.g. to eat), a great movie or a gorgeous sunset; somewhat similar to the Hebrew sof a-derekh - literally, "end of the road" - but much stronger.

Btw, the word mat comes from the Russian word for "mother", and it's not hard to guess why...

[ Parent ]

Foul language. (3.33 / 15) (#28)
by driftingwalrus on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 08:05:11 AM EST

The english language has over six hundred thousand words. Why is it such a difficult intellectual feat to pick some other ones? The English language can be used as a scalpal, carefully slicing and dissecting one's opponent. Most people however, and I beleive this is a reflection of the decay of education, decide to use it as a club.

Not only does it demonstrate a lack of intellectual capability, it also demonstrates a horrible laziness that has gripped the users of our language. Not only can these people not be bothered to phrase their statements with greater tact and precision, they also will not put the effort into coming up with a suitable retort. As a result of this laziness, any kind of discussion degenerates into the equivalent of two people shouting "Well You're one too!" and "Am not!" back and forth at each other with enough profanity inserted to melt a small housepet. It demonstrates a profound intellectual laziness that is running rampant. Consider stand-up comedy. Before the days of lazy imbeciles like Richard Pryor, one had to be creative to pull it off. You need to have a broad base of knowledge to draw from, and a clever mind to make it work - there are some who are still like that, Robin Williams being one good example - but the VAST majority just get up on stage and club their audience until they laugh. It's just not funny any more. Also worth considering is Monty Python, a group of individuals which are quite people within the hacker culture. Every one of them has doctorate's in medicine and is very highly educated.

By way of conclusion, this issue is not really about people being stupid. It's about people being lazy. A game with no rules is very easy to play. By imposing rules and controls, it requires more work but is also more rewarding. Remember: Checkers is just chess with fewer rules.


"I drank WHAT?!" -- Socrates
Gah, what crap. (2.80 / 5) (#33)
by chulbert on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 10:33:04 AM EST

Just because people don't speak or write in a manner you find acceptable, it doesn't make them stupid. It doesn't make their humor less intelligent. It just makes them different.

Don't invent criteria you can meet that others cannot just to make yourself look "smart." It doesn't work.


"I weep for the species."
[ Parent ]

Dictionary and thesaurus (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by driftingwalrus on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 03:39:47 PM EST

Is the skill of operating a dictionary or a thesaurus really so obscure today that it is to be considered a "criteria you can meet that others cannot"? Why is this such a special skill?
"I drank WHAT?!" -- Socrates
[ Parent ]
Snobbery at its finest (1.50 / 4) (#76)
by NDPTAL85 on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 04:22:03 AM EST

Listen here you pompous fuck, as someone else earlier said, playing games with words to avoid using profanity does not make someone more intelligent. We aren't put on Earth to impress stuck up fucks like yourself with witty responses to whatever your thesaurus like brain has spit out. No the skill of operating a dictionary or a thesaurus is not obscure. Its not hard to do. Thats not the point. The point is you sound like a dork. You really do. You don't have to sound like a dork to sound intelligent. You don't have to talk like a dork because you ARE intelligent. It is ok to just be yourself. There's no need to purposely try to "give the best impression" every fucking time you speak. Nor is it reasonable to expect that in return. But you'll never get that. You'll never get why Richard Pryor is just as funny as Monty Python. No. Instead you want everyone to expend effort for the simplest and most irrelevant of things. I mean listening to comedy is supposed to be entertainment but you seem to take offense at the fact that most people don't want to have to know enough to catch the off the mark jokes that certain "intelligent" comedians use. Its almost a form of Political Correctness but its worse this time because you want it used all the time. No one can ever let their guard down lest they be perceived as "too stupid to come up with something witty." Advanced vocabulary skills are NICE, but they are not the Alpha and Omega of intelligence. If thats ALL you have, you better hold onto it real tightly.

[ Parent ]
Ignorance exposed. (5.00 / 2) (#104)
by driftingwalrus on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 08:13:15 AM EST

Oh yes, my oh my, such a well-reasoned and thoughtful rebuttal. Here again, this very post to which I am replying evidences the intellectual lazyness of which I speak. Not only was this person too lazy to chose a better wording, he was also far too lazy to even bother thinking up a reply that was anything beyond childish name-calling.

Sir, I am not at all impressed by the putrifacted bovine tripe that has just spewed forth from your mouth. See how you talk simply because you are too lazy? The best argument you could come up with was to say that I am a "dork". Good grief! What a disappointing failure at an insult.

Again, I reiterate, this is a symptom of the same lazyness that inherent in poor grammar and poor spelling, and the root of ignorance. People are not stupid because they cannot think, they are stupid because they WILL NOT think!



"I drank WHAT?!" -- Socrates
[ Parent ]
too much effort (none / 0) (#107)
by mlong on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 12:51:48 PM EST

Listen here you pompous fuck, as someone else earlier said, playing games with words to avoid using profanity does not make someone more intelligent. We aren't put on Earth to impress stuck up fucks like yourself with witty responses to whatever your thesaurus like brain has spit out. No the skill of operating a dictionary or a thesaurus is not obscure. Its not hard to do. Thats not the point. The point is you sound like a dork. You really do. You don't have to sound like a dork to sound intelligent. You don't have to talk like a dork because you ARE intelligent. It is ok to just be yourself. There's no need to purposely try to "give the best impression" every fucking time you speak. Nor is it reasonable to expect that in return. But you'll never get that. You'll never get why Richard Pryor is just as funny as Monty Python. No. Instead you want everyone to expend effort for the simplest and most irrelevant of things. I mean listening to comedy is supposed to be entertainment but you seem to take offense at the fact that most people don't want to have to know enough to catch the off the mark jokes that certain "intelligent" comedians use. Its almost a form of Political Correctness but its worse this time because you want it used all the time. No one can ever let their guard down lest they be perceived as "too stupid to come up with something witty." Advanced vocabulary skills are NICE, but they are not the Alpha and Omega of intelligence. If thats ALL you have, you better hold onto it real tightly.

That's right, why should a lazy idiot like yourself have to put forth any effort to avoid language that might offend others? After all you seem to only care about yourself.

[ Parent ]

Hmm. Another visit from the irony pixie. (4.00 / 4) (#35)
by kaemaril on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 10:51:41 AM EST

  • The English language can be used as a scalpal
  • and I beleive this is a reflection of the decay of education
  • Also worth considering is Monty Python, a group of individuals which are quite people within the hacker culture
  • Every one of them has doctorate's in medicine

By way of conclusion, this issue is not really about people being stupid. It's about people being lazy.

One of the foulest-mouthed comedians I ever heard was the late, great, Bill Hicks. Anyone citing him for a lack of intellectual capability or a "horrible laziness" has either never heard his stuff or needs to be taken into an alley somewhere and beaten :)


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Opinion (4.50 / 2) (#37)
by Khedak on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 11:59:09 AM EST

I don't agree. Which words are profane and which are not is purely a matter of personal opinion, there is no style of writing or speaking which is 'superior' to any other. This is a basic fact of linguistics, upon which much of the field is based. Language 'decay' is a myth. Language change, on the other hand, is natural and unstoppable, no matter how much you may personally disagree with the direction of the change.

If you think Richard Pryor is an imbecile, then his comedy is not intended for you. Some people, however, don't think he is an imbecile, and it is to them that he is communicating. Playing games with words to avoid profanity may make you feel superior to others, but it says absolutely nothing about laziness, intellectual capacity, or any other objective measure of worth. I'm surprised your post got rated to five, because in my opinion it's a flamebait.

[ Parent ]
not agreed upon? (4.00 / 2) (#106)
by mlong on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 12:49:50 PM EST

I don't agree. Which words are profane and which are not is purely a matter of personal opinion, there is no style of writing or speaking which is 'superior' to any other. This is a basic fact of linguistics, upon which much of the field is based. Language 'decay' is a myth. Language change, on the other hand, is natural and unstoppable, no matter how much you may personally disagree with the direction of the change.

You're dead wrong. There are an agreed upon set of profane words in each community and if you walked up to 100 different people using them I suspect the majority would be upset at you, especially if you direct the profanity at them (hey you stupid b*itch get out of my way)

[ Parent ]

Profanity (4.00 / 1) (#108)
by Khedak on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 07:46:59 PM EST

You're dead wrong. There are an agreed upon set of profane words in each community and if you walked up to 100 different people using them I suspect the majority would be upset at you, especially if you direct the profanity at them (hey you stupid b*itch get out of my way)

Your example doesn't have anything to do with profanity. I can come up with countless sentences that will offend people without using "profane" words, and that was the topic of discussion. For example, if I walk up to 100 people and say "Hey, you ignorant slob, get your stink out of my face", I haven't used any profanity and yet I've still managed to offend the majority of people. And remember, the majority of speech isn't used in the "100 strangers" context, so that's an artificial and misleading measure anyway. The issue isn't whether most people will be offended at a particular word or phrase, the issue is whether a particular word or phrase is inherently profanity.

There are situations where your example would not be offensive, as well. For example, college aged males will use such language to their friends without offense being meant or taken. So, my point is supported, which was that offensiveness depends on to whom you're speaking and how you intend the words much more than which particular words are used.

[ Parent ]
Unfortunately... the moral (none / 0) (#119)
by big hairy mama on Sat Dec 29, 2001 at 05:45:31 AM EST

"Hey, you ignorant slob, get your stink out of my face"

Unfortunately, you've also managed to sound like an idiot. :)

I think the moral of the story is that if you want to offend, express your opinion strongly (but not necessarily convincingly), and/or sound "cool", then use all the profanity you want.

As an earlier poster pointed out, excessive swearing definitely will reduce the effectiveness of any claim you wish to express. But playing word games to *avoid* swearing is, in my opinion, a waste of time. If you want to make your opinion appear stronger, then five paragraphs of a detailed rebutal will only cause your reader to lose interest. Most likely, you will end up offending someone anyway, so why not do it the "right" way? :)
Furthermore, I believe bacon prevents hair loss.
[ Parent ]
My take on profanity: (3.85 / 7) (#29)
by ersatz on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 08:19:52 AM EST

I swear. A lot, in fact. I swear around my friends, I swear around my parents (quite a bit, actually, they've gotten really cool about it in the last few years, although my dad occasionally complains about "ineffective swearing" :)), and, hell, I even swear around my teachers (but I don't go to any sort of normal High School...) Basically, within the context of my life, profanity isn't really a forbidden, or a discouraged thing. Rather, it's a useful extension to the English language.

Some have commented that profanity is the sign of a poor writer. I find this to be incorrect. Profanity changes the tone of writing, and that can be taken advantage of. The most general use of profanity is it simply and easily makes speech markedly informal. "Aw, fuck", might not be as eloquent as "oh, despair, for the world is cold and cruel", but everyone will be taken down to a lower level of formality, eliminating any distinctions between classes. Fuck is human and base word. I love it.

Others argue that profanity's potential is crippled by its overuse. I generally disagree. Profanity, including it's overuse, is always communicative. "Aw, fuck, I fuckin' hate this shit" is just great to communicate your life situation to a friend in a casual, base way, even though about half of the sentence is profanity. Sure, its entirely possible to overuse profanity in such a maner to make it obvious that one is doing it for it's own sake. But if someone is too stupid to realize they write like a 3rd grader with a potty mouth, then we know all that much more about them, just like any bad writing.

Profanity - Myth or Reality? (3.33 / 3) (#34)
by daveq on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 10:33:51 AM EST

Really folks, can a word be inherintly bad? Can wallpaper be inherintly bad? Words are used to communicate thoughts. Thoughts on the other hand can be inherintly evil/bad. Words are just the medium. While using so-called "bad" words affects how much respect certain types of people give you, they don't do any real harm at all. They're great for communicating with friends -- just keep them out of places where they're distracting or unnecessary (work).

All I can say is... (none / 0) (#48)
by UncleMikey on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 06:23:52 PM EST

...you never saw my Grandmother's wallpaper...*shudder*
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]
Can't Understand the Fascination (3.37 / 8) (#39)
by boyken on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 12:04:09 PM EST

Really. I have never understood the fascination people have with profanity. Proponents argue that it their "right" to use these words and they can't understand why people get so upset at the overuse of profanity. I would argue that it is you proponents that have the hangup. What is it about these words that so fascinates you that you not only have to pepper your conversations with them, but you feel compelled to defend your "right" to use them?

The point that I find most fascinating is the issue of offensiveness. In times past, a mark of a civilized society was graciousness, consideration for others, and a desire to NOT say or do things that would offend others. I hear people today defending their "right" to be offensive. They say, "It's YOUR problem if you find my speech objectionable." Really? It's funny that this never seems to be a two way street. For example, if my dog were to relieve himself in your front lawn, I'm sure you would have a problem with that, no matter how strenuously I argued that he was simply doing what comes natural for a dog, and that it was his "right" to do so.

Don't miss my point. It's not that using profanity is "right" or "wrong". It's about community and civility. Instead of asserting our "right" to be offensive, why not focus on things that are positive?


It's about expressing our thoughts (none / 0) (#40)
by krogoth on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 01:40:04 PM EST

People will defend their use of these words because it helps them express their thoughts. I can't talk about computer in french, although I am otherwise very good at it, because I just don't know the right words. Without common swears, some people would have the same problems expressing their feelings.
--
"If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
:wq
[ Parent ]
Sounds like you're defending ignorance (4.33 / 3) (#44)
by boyken on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 04:45:36 PM EST

Let's see if I understand you correctly.

If you don't know "the right words", then the proper course of action is to simply use profanity. Moreover, you say that without resorting to profanity ("common swears"), some would be unable to express their feelings. Hmmm...

You say you are very good at "computer", but that you "can't talk about computer in french". I gather from your post that if you were trying to discuss something computer related with a native of France, you would soon experience difficulty in expressing yourself and begin using profanity. Somehow I doubt this would accomplish what you intended. Perhaps a better course of action would be spend a little time reading and educating yourself and learning better words to express your thoughts.

[ Parent ]
Not quite... (none / 0) (#56)
by krogoth on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 08:53:42 PM EST

Actually, there is a difference: the people in question have an alternative to not expressing their ideas. It's partly because of the strength of the words; for some people, none of the equivalent words will be as effective in the case of strong opinion. by the way, thanks for pointing out that I missed a key. I take do like to be warned of my mistakes, as I do for others so often.
--
"If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
:wq
[ Parent ]
You've missed the nail on the head (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by Macrobat on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 02:06:06 PM EST

Two points about your statement:
For example, if my dog were to relieve himself in your front lawn, I'm sure you would have a problem with that, no matter how strenuously I argued that he was simply doing what comes natural for a dog, and that it was his "right" to do so.
--first, words are not material. If I say "Fuck you" to someone, I risk zero chance of contracting STDs or getting them pregnant. Your dog's waste matter, on the other hand, is an actual physical nuisance that I have to contend with.

Second, note how you say "your dog" on "my lawn." Nobody is forcing you to say things you don't feel comfortable with. If you're in public, yes, you'll hear some words you don't like. I don't know where you live, but I rarely hear them on sunny days in the park, or at the museum, or the zoo; sometimes I hear them at the movie theater (but usually not while the movie's running), and sometimes at shopping malls where teenagers are prone to hang out (yes, I'm making a couple of sweeping generalizations here). Still, unless I have particularly thick skin, I just don't hear these words intruding on my private space.

Oh, and I know that wasn't your main point, but I also think you're looking at some mythical past with rose-colored sun glasses. Every known culture (if my memory of Anthro 101 serves me) has 'impolite' words, usually dealing with sexual or excretory functions, so it's not a recent or local phenomenon.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

You're right about the dog analogy, but... (1.00 / 2) (#45)
by boyken on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 05:14:55 PM EST

I'll admit that the dog/waste analogy was weak. I considered offering up a smoking analogy, but it suffers the same weakness that you point out, in that it brings into play elements of the physical world.

What's your feeling about so-called hate speech? How do you feel about people who pepper their speech with racial slurs? Isn't that simply a form of self-expression? I'm also pretty sure that cultures throughout history have each developed nasty little pet words and phrases to describe those in other cultures. Does this make it acceptable?

I wonder why you completely bypassed my arguments regarding the "offendee". If I were a person of color, and I overheard you refer to people of my race as "n*ggers", I would be angry and offended and most people would defend my right to feel that way. You would likely be roundly criticized for your use of that particular word. Why? You didn't physically assault me. In fact, you weren't even speaking directly to me.

Hey, I've got an idea. Try this. The next time you go for a job interview, make sure you "express yourself" by using lots of profanity. After all, it's your right to speak that way. Your employer ought to be enlightened enough to appreciate that.

The reality is that in a civil society, we each bear responsibility for the words we speak and the impact we have on others. If I say something that offends you, what right do I have to tell you to get a "thicker skin"? I am troubled by the prevailing attitude I see expressed here that "it's my right to be as offensive as I want to be." You bet. That's your right. If it makes you feel good, do it.

Just don't fool yourself into thinking that your boorish behavior will be appreciated by all.


[ Parent ]
The difference (none / 0) (#47)
by Macrobat on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 06:10:17 PM EST

The difference between saying something like "fuck" and using a racial slur is, by its very nature, a racial slur is actually directed at someone. If I say "you're a fucking idiot" at someone present, that's already considered inflammatory speech and therefore not protected. But if I just use the word, or say it about someone who is not present at the moment, that is, rightfully protected under the first amendment.

Also, other people's reaction is an imprecise gauge to measure your speech by. I remember once, back in high school, I was sitting on the front steps with my then-girlfriend, and I waved to some friends who passed by. She took offense because my hand-waving looked too much like a Nazi salute. Now, few things in this world offend me more than Nazis, but I didn't feel the slightest bit guilty about what I'd just done, and I didn't take extra special care the next time I waved at people to make sure my hand didn't go out at an offensive angle. It was simply her hyper-sensitivity.

Finally, I have every right to say whatever I please in a job interview. My interviewer will rightfully dump my resume in the garbage if he/she finds it offensive or unprofessional.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Right to Swear (none / 0) (#62)
by TheAJOfOZ on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 10:47:26 PM EST

Finally, I have every right to say whatever I please in a job interview. My interviewer will rightfully dump my resume in the garbage if he/she finds it offensive or unprofessional. "Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.

While this may be true in America, in Australia it's called verbal harrassment and is illegal. Moreso if you consistently swore once you have gotten the job - dropping the occasionally swear word is not going to cause problems but incessently swearing will. The reason for this is that in Australia we have a strong worker ethic and our country is focussed more on employees rather than employers (that's changing to a degree now). As such we have strict rules about the type of workplace environment that should be provided. One of those rules is that employees should be able to feel safe and comfortable within their workplace. This goal (not a right, as in Australia we do not have an equivalent of the bill of rights), is balanced out with other goals such as allowing free speech and not overly restricting workplaces. Sometime the balance is right and it all works, sometimes it isn't.

This all serves to show two things, 1) the web is an international community and so it is important to be understand of a wide range of ideals and to be considerate of others and 2) that there can be a balance between two sides of an argument - this isn't a choice of whether or not to swear, but rather a case of when is it appropriate to swear?

[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 0) (#80)
by UncleMikey on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 09:44:33 AM EST

American 'freedom of speech' does, in fact, stop at the line of harrassment. It can be a little difficult sometimes to define what harrassment is in a court of law, but I imagine this is true in Australia, as well. As a general rule, tho', harrassment doesn't even start until someone says, 'Please stop that.', and the person so asked fails to stop.

Until recently (when the company became a dot.bomb) I worked in an extremely informal environment. All of the engineering staff were men of roughly the same age and social background, and the mix of personalities was such that profanity was extremely commonplace -- not as insults against one another, mind you, but more usually to lend emotional context to some problem or other with which we were wrestling. It was not unheard-of or unexpected for a highly technical and otherwise articulate discussion of a frustrating bug to be peppered with profanity used as emotional emphasis.

We often half-joked, however, that if we ever succeeded in hiring a female engineer, or even someone who simply didn't like that level of informatlity, we'd have a really interseting time learning to behave ourselves.

Context, of course, is everything. I'm about to start a new job, and the new workplace is a much more formal and business-like setting in many ways. I have already resolved to conduct myself with a much 'cleaner' vocabulary, especially at the outset, when I don't really know how such things will be received.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]

Noise Pollution (none / 0) (#50)
by dave114 on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 06:38:58 PM EST

first, words are not material. If I say ----- to someone, I risk zero chance of contracting STDs or getting them pregnant. Your dog's waste matter, on the other hand, is an actual physical nuisance that I have to contend with.

What if the guy in the apartment next door left his stereo system cranked all day... I'd imagine that'd get annoying after a while.... but perhaps he's just "moved by the music" or some such thing.

Civilization needs civility. (note the root of both words is the same).

[ Parent ]

A Lack of Thought? (none / 0) (#93)
by DarkZero on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 03:33:03 PM EST

Everyone has a right to use any word that they want. Flipping out on someone because they used the words "fuck" and "shit" in their post would be just as irrational as my going after you for using the patently offensive words "fascination" and "offensive" in your post. I mean, really, what the fuck is wrong with you, coming in here talking like that? Don't you know that those sort of words could have an effect on a retarded child whose father was probably a chimp? You're sick, man. That's just wrong.

See what I mean? We have just as much a right to say "fuck" and "shit" that you do to say "fascination" and "offensive". They're just words, and the truely irrational part of the arguement is that some people have picked a few words out of the English language to get angry about. People only think it's alright to go after people for saying "fuck" and "shit" because it's what other people have done. They'd laugh just as hard as I have at the idea of telling people that "fascination" and "offensive" are bad words, and that you'd be a bad person for saying them. But when you get right down to it, they're JUST WORDS. "Fascination" and "fuck" aren't all that different in this way.



[ Parent ]
More Than Words (none / 0) (#97)
by TheAJOfOZ on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 05:37:37 PM EST

Words are not "just" words - they are far more than that. Words have meaning, context, connotations, interpretation and attitude, they can be combined into a myriad of different sentences and used to communicate virtually anything. Words are the most commonly used invention of man kind. Since words have all this extra power they must be used carefully. A very significant number of people find a certain subset of words offensive, and what's more it is well known that these words are often found offensive. They are offensive because they are often used in offensive ways and they have offensive meanings and as such have developed offensive connotations which they are forced to carry around.

You'll find that these connotations and memory is applied to more than just words. For instance, if someone on IRC continuously makes idiotic or deliberately annoying comments a lot of people put him on ignore or he is banned from the channel. Later he may make a whole range of incredibly insightful and witty comments but because of his previous ranting he will continue to be ignored and even if heard, people will assume he is just stirring up trouble. The same effect applies to words. Words like "motherfucker" have a clearly offensive meaning and really are only used as an insult - perhaps to an inanimate object, but an insult none the less. Is it any wonder they are considered offensive?

Words like "fuck" were originally used in an offensive context and are still widely used in an offensive manner and so they are quickly related to offensive situations by the reader. The word "shit" has become used more in disappointment, surprise or frustration than as an insult these days and correspondingly has become more accepted by the general public, ie: it's connotation is changing to something more positive.

[ Parent ]

...on profanity (3.60 / 5) (#51)
by dave256 on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 07:22:43 PM EST

Profanity is the last resort of inarticulate motherfuckers.
-- /usr/games/fortune

Or, as Mr. Carlin would say:

There are over 60,000 words in the English language. And only seven of them are bad. You 59,993 words, over here. You seven, you're baaad go stand over there.

Profanity really is the last resort of the inarticulate. The net provides plent of opportunity for offering inflection and tone of voice. It's a print medium that happens to also have markups to allow some inflection in the text itself. I try to refrain from using the generally accepted "bad" words in print for the same reason authors in the last several thousand years have -- you really do end up looking a little stupider.
-Dave

Words have meaning. Using them all purpose --- (3.57 / 7) (#53)
by vmarks on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 08:03:36 PM EST

Words have specific meanings. Using them in an all purpose fashion dilutes their meanings and impact.

People generally swear because they are highly frustrated, in pain, angered, or a combination of them all. Swearing is a last resort done the intensity of the moment, and for those with etiquette, apoligized for afterwards.

Shit applies to one thing only, excrement. Using it as an exclamation, and a common one, lessens it's impact and disassociates it from it's true definition.

Fuck, sometimes referred to as a police injunctive for unlawful carnal knowledge (a folk entymology with no supporting evidence,) is pretty specific to describing an act. Using it to describe anything other than that act dilutes the meaning.

The word fucke first appears around 1503, so there's a long history of usage, but it remains unacceptable for use in public. The first use of as an insult (fucker) was in 1893.

Fuck was exclusively a verb in late middle English, and only recently (last century) extended to use as just about every part of speech.

Then came the victorian period, which made the usage of these words pale in public use. Henry James reviled Oscar Wilde for such things.

So. There's a long history of these words. But they ought to be used with measure and care.

If you dilute the meanings of words, you destroy the ability of language to communicate precisely what you mean, and leave it to your audience to infer from context. Fortunately for your audience, if you use these words liberally in your writings, the context is likely simplistic enough that the audience will not mistake your intended message.

(Historical information from the book _Swearing_: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English_ by Geoffrey Hughes, Penguin Books, 1998.)

WHAT?!? (none / 0) (#116)
by Scandal on Fri Dec 28, 2001 at 05:48:15 PM EST

Words do have specific meanings, on that we agree. However, these meanings tend to change over time. Furthermore, words have meaningS, not "a single meaning". "Shit", being a rather unpleasant substance, connotes "something unpleasant I'd rather not have to deal with" when used as an expletive. It's meaning is not diluted by it's use as such, so I strongly disagree with your assertion. Words change meanings in context all the time, and no one has a problem with it; but when profanity is involved, every manner of rationalization for and against it is invoked.

"Take" and "set", for example, have well over eighty distinct definitions each (I've seen as many as 125 distinct definitions for "take" in modern dictionaries, let alone Oxford), and we understand them perfectly well in context. We know that "take a shower" does not mean "physically remove the porcelain fixture in which we bathe in a stream of water and carry it off with you" but instead means "engage in the act of bathing in a continuous stream of water". Yet you aren't here arguing that we dilute the meaning of "take" by using it in that context, are you?

"In other words, fuck that shit." -- epepke.


*Scandal*


[ Parent ]
I think we become desensitized to obscene words (3.33 / 3) (#55)
by joegee on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 08:52:39 PM EST

over time. Look at the words that have become acceptable in every day speech. At one time, "butt" was not spoken on American television. As I recall it was first used in an episode of M*A*S*H because Hawkeye's character would not have used the word "bottom." Now it's on Nickelodeon.

I suspect definitions of profanity and obscenity change along with cultures over time. "Butt" is a simple example, there are probably dozens of others. "Ass" has found its way onto television, as has "piss." There was a time when "damn" and "go to hell" would have been deleted by censors. If you watch closely you'll probably notice "shit" working its way into prime time in the next four to ten years.

How does this pertain to the net, and K5? I think in the cultural percolator we call the internet we're just a bit more advanced (or devolved) than general society. Although "fuck" will probably never be a Nickelodeon word, twenty years from now I'd wager it will be all over whatever media are used to distribute future "television" programming.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
hehe (5.00 / 3) (#99)
by xriso on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 11:49:23 PM EST

If you watch closely you'll probably notice "shit" working its way into prime time in the next four to ten years.
Thank you very much for providing that hilarious sentence. There are so many ways to follow it up; I don't think I can decide!
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
HAHAHAHAHAHA (none / 0) (#103)
by joegee on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 07:52:59 AM EST

"Shit" is already there, isn't it? :P

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
Ass is a weird curse word. (none / 0) (#128)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Dec 30, 2001 at 10:18:59 PM EST

Ass is weird because in the early part of the 20th century it was a much more acceptable term - with the same meaning as calling someone a "mule".

I think the invention of the expression "ass hole" is what turned it *into* a dirty word. And, as other people mentioned - the point isn't the word, it's the concept that the word refers to that people object too.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Forget you and the horse you rode in on (3.88 / 9) (#57)
by rde on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 09:08:27 PM EST

My feeling is that fuck is as much a part of the language as any other word, and its omission is as heinous as any other example of Orwellian lexical limitation. However, I also have the feeling that this is over the top, and that I should probably lighten up.
So why do I say fuck? Because, like many others, it's a word to which I've become accustomed. Like everyone else, I encounter words, and I like the sound of them, and they somehow insinuate themselves into my conversation. At the moment, I can't seem to go a day without using the word 'ineluctable'
While I most emphatically don't swear to shock or offend, I do tend to find myself irritated by the sanctimonious motherfuckers who seem inordinately fond of the phrase 'that isn't necessary'. However, when pressed, they can't give me a single adjective that is necessary. This is petty of me, I know, but the alternative is a diatribe for which I'm rarely in the mood.
I do have one observation, though: most of the time (check the posts in this thread) you'll find that the worst spelling and grammar come from people who want to limit our lexicon, and have the temerity to castigate others for 'bad language'.
So, to one and all: you can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe.

Thank you (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by jobi on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 07:52:36 PM EST

you can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe.

Thanks for putting a big smile on my face and a new sig on my posts :)

---
"[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
[ Parent ]
Inteligent articulate peole on the net (3.33 / 3) (#59)
by hillct on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 09:59:34 PM EST

Certainly profanity offers exresson of emoton as well as shades of meaning not easily expressd through more socially acceptable language, but more highly educated and articulate people can usually find alternate expression of meaning through more socially acceptable language. The anonymty of the net offers an opportunity for even the mot articulate people to make use of language society wouldn't otherwise expect or allow from them. The bottom line though, is something my grandfather told me once. "Articulate people with decent vocabularies should have no need for profanity in expressing themselves". This is as true online as in the offline world of real social interaction.

--CTH


--Got Lists? | Top 31 Signs Your Spouse Is A Spy
"Not needed" doesn't mean "not usef (4.00 / 2) (#61)
by zakalwe on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 10:35:25 PM EST

"Articulate people with decent vocabularies should have no need for profanity in expressing themselves"
This seems to be a common argument here, but I can't really agree with it. After all, its just as relevant to say that truly articulate people have no need for words containing the letter "u", and should be able to converse without them by careful choice of words. But it presupposes that there is a reason that they should avoid the words, even when they might be the best available. Saying that you shouldn't say something just because its possible is only half the argument - you still need to provide a reason why "fuck" should be avoided, but others are OK. I could work around swearing, but why should I?

Admittedly, I don't tend to swear much, but I don't find swearing offensive unless its intended to be (ie. aimed at me) Whether they are appropriate or not seems to me more a matter of the medium and audience involved - but I don't think the appropriateness of swearing has any bearing on the intelligence of the people, or how "good" a community it is - though I suppose one advantage of a community where it is rare is that it does tend to be more shocking when you do use it

[ Parent ]

Why you shouldn't swear (4.66 / 3) (#63)
by TheAJOfOZ on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 11:09:36 PM EST

I could work around swearing, but why should I?

The thing to learn if you want to write well is that every single word in the English language has both a defined meaning and an inferred connotation. Swear words have a very negative connotation which implies to a large number of people that the writer is juvenile and largely uninformed. By carefully selecting your words you can present a much more informed, mature and rational connotation to the reader and thus better communicate your message (unless of course your message is that you are juvenile and uninformed or that you have lost your temper).

I personally don't find swearing offensive however I do consider swearing to have a negative and juvenile connotation and as a result people who swear are less likely to convey their opinion to me as they will be first and foremost communicating to me that they do not have the intellect to craft their speech or writing into a form which best presents their meaning.

[ Parent ]

Negative connotations (1.00 / 1) (#69)
by rde on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 12:44:03 AM EST

I recently described the LoTR movie as "fucking great". Nothing negative about that.
Equally, when talking about sex, the word "fuck" is eminently useable as a verb in a positive context.
I've also read a number of magazine articles which used the word 'shit' when referring to human waste, and 'piss' when referring to urine. Both of these are examples of words being used in their intended context (so to speak), and with out any negative connotations at all.
Then, of course, there's the case of a friend of mine whose gastronomic excesses one night led to an extended period on the toiled. The most common phrase he used for the rest of the night was "ooh, me arse".
So: what word should he use instead? Anus? Colon? Posterior? Behind? Fanny? (I wouldn't use that last one in Ireland, BTW).
You speak of a defined meaning. Of the above, 'anus' seems the most specific. But is 'anus' a part of any vernacular, or are we just unsophisticated in Dublin?

[ Parent ]
Connotation (4.50 / 2) (#70)
by TheAJOfOZ on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 01:41:04 AM EST

I think you may have missed the exact meaning of my post. Let me try to explain a little better using your examples.

I recently described the LoTR movie as "fucking great".

In this case the word "fucking" is being used like the word "very". It's merely used to show that the movie was a step above being great or to provide emphasis. A similar effect would have been to say that "the LoTR movie as *great*" or was "exceptional" or better "a rivoting piece of literature which challenged the view of contemporary gnomes" (or whatever, haven't seen it myself). The latter is better because it not only expresses your opinion but provides some form of justification for your opinion, thus making it more believable.

However, the connotation that goes along with saying that LoTR was "fucking great" is that you are an excited fan of the movie but gives me no indication of why the movie was so good. It also indicates to me that the movie is not of an intellectual nature and that you are most likely not a film critic or writer. If you'd verbally made the comment I would most likely ignore the "f" word in your comment, but if you were to write it it would indicate a lack of writing skill (and here we find the negative connotation).

So we see that the negative connotation is not connected to the topic, but rather to the author which provides all the more reason to choose your language carefully.

As for your second example:

Equally, when talking about sex, the word "fuck" is eminently useable as a verb in a positive context.

This has a much stronger negative connotation than the first example. To prove this to yourself ask a random sampling of women if they'd prefer to be asked to "make love" or even "have sex" rather than "fuck". The word "fuck" has the negative connotations in that it is often used as sex for pure physical gratification rather than for love (and almost everyone would prefer to be loved and have sex than just to have sex). If you were to say "hey, let's fuck" you'd come across as highly insensitive, whereas saying something like "Darling, would you like to make love?" comes across as at least somewhat romantic.

Finally, note that it is not just avoiding the use of foul language that is important but rather carefully constructing your words. Your argument will be just as pointless and naive if you use terms like "you are a supporter of the political movement commonly termed 'nazi'" as if you use terms like "You're fucking Hitler reincarnate". Both are obviously misguided, though the latter at least communicates anger and frustration.

[ Parent ]

default subject (none / 0) (#72)
by rde on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 02:28:48 AM EST

The latter is better because it not only expresses your opinion but provides some form of justification for your opinion, thus making it more believable.
I was asked for my opinion; I thought it was fucking great. Discourse followed, but my immediate reaction wasn't that it was a cinematic tour de force or a worthy adaptation of an excellent novel; it was that the movie was fucking great.
You speak of disregarding such a comment if it were written; I've two things to say about this.
1. I wasn't talking to you. If I were, I may well have phrased it differently. Actually, I probably wouldn't; it's how I feel about the movie. But as I said, elucidation would follow. This elucidation would be audience sensitive.
2. You're unwilling to give credit to someone who swears; I'm unwilling to read any magazine that has a horoscope column. We all have our standards, and we all have different standards. I could craft a thousand-word article on why my position is better than yours, and I'm sure you could wax lyrical on the evils of profanity. Doesn't mean either of us is particularly right, and we may end up both out-argued by someone with philosophical objections to the letter Q.

whereas saying something like "Darling, would you like to make love?" comes across as at least somewhat romantic.
And hypocritical. This probably isn't the place to argue the merits of honesty, but fuck is distinct from, ahem, 'making love' (a phrase I really dislike). If I ever used the phrase "make love" to my girlfriend, she'd laugh at me. And possibly tell me to make love off.
note that it is not just avoiding the use of foul language that is important but rather carefully constructing your words
I agree. But fuck is one word amongst many, and equally deserving of consideration. Aside from a possible overuse of the phrase "well-poisoning motherfucker", I'm content that my use of the word is within acceptable statistical parameters.

[ Parent ]
Audience Sensitifity (none / 0) (#74)
by TheAJOfOZ on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 03:12:16 AM EST

I'm sure you could wax lyrical on the evils of profanity.

Actually, I couldn't. I'm not against profanity - I swear myself in oral form (and very occasionally use it in the written form as well). What I am suggesting is that profanity is not appropriate in all situations, particularly in a persuasive essay such as would be found on K5 (note that your post doesn't use foul language). In an informal context as you describe with regards to LoTR (someone asks your opinion and you answer in discussion form), use of foul language can be useful (depending on who you are talking to) as it provides a simple means of empahsising something. However, in semi-formal or formal written prose, it merely detracts from the professionalism of the written piece.

I agree. But fuck is one word amongst many, and equally deserving of consideration.

As long as it is used in a audience sensitive way, I completely agree. Using it in a job interview (as suggested in one comment) is almost guaranteed to be a bad idea.

You're unwilling to give credit to someone who swears;

Depending on the context. I was thinking your comment was in a movie review rather than a more informal setting. Certainly I would severly discount the opinions of a research paper which used foul language or of a newspaper article which exhibited similar language. However, in an informal conversation I would likely not notice unless every second word was a swear word.

I wasn't talking to you. If I were, I may well have phrased it differently

Audience sensitivity is what it's really all about. When you don't know your audience (such as in a web log) avoiding foul language and using a relatively formal tone will significantly increase the successfulness of your writing as it avoids as many negative connotations as possible.

So largely, I think we agree on this one. You'd behave pretty much exactly as I am trying to argue you should behave - in an audience sensitive manner.

Final quick apology for quoting you out of order, it followed my thinking better that way and (hypocritically) I'm not going to take the time to rewrite it all so that it flows and maintains the order of your original post.

[ Parent ]

oops (none / 0) (#130)
by rde on Mon Dec 31, 2001 at 01:55:50 AM EST

Now that I look back over the posts, I realised that I did indeed misinterpret your comments; sorry about that.

But now that we're in agreement, it's time for me to be contrary, again.
Context is all, but when you're writing a web page (which is, after all, the intended theme of this thread), you can't make as many assumptions about your readers. If you're publishing a magazine called Cool Uses of the Word Fuck, your readers have little cause for complaint if they're offended by the content. Search engines, on the other hand, are quite clueless as far as context is concerned. Someone found my web page, for example, by looking for a definition of an anapest. This was included in the page (here, if you're interested), but anyone looking for definitions of aspects of poetry isn't necessarily going to be delighted with a page of dirty limericks.
There's a point to all of this; I'm sure of it. Oh yeah. Should we swear on web pages? My feeling is yes. If the style, content or even the inclination of the writer is such that rudies are elements of the text, then so be it. Caveat lector; if you're not prepared to encounter rude words, don't surf the web.

[ Parent ]
Just to clarify (none / 0) (#132)
by UncleMikey on Mon Dec 31, 2001 at 10:45:28 AM EST

The Net does not equal 'web pages'. There's a lot more to the Net than the web -- a fact which as sadly been swamped over time. I was referring to communication over the network in all its varieties -- USENET, mailing lists, weblogs, static web pages, IRC, FTP sites, the works.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]
Foul Language On The Net (none / 0) (#142)
by TheAJOfOZ on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 08:27:19 PM EST

Should we swear on web pages? My feeling is yes. If the style, content or even the inclination of the writer is such that rudies are elements of the text, then so be it.

I would say that yes you should swear on the net when you feel that it will be effective for your audience. If you were working on the Disney web site, I'd suggest you don't swear. If you were writing for the "l337 hax0rs guild3" then swearing is probably a requirement. For somewhere like K5, which I consider to be a fairly intellectual kind of site, I would tend to avoid swearing unless it were really nessecary to convey your point.

The reason I'd say that, is because you are expressing your opinions to a group of people with a fairly diverse range of expectations from language and you cannot be sure that using foul language will not offened and/or detract from your message. So to gain maximum effectiveness in most cases, you should avoid swearing on K5.

Mikey pointed out in another reply to this message that he wasn't just talking about web pages, but each protocol and venue has a different audience and purpose and so it is just a matter of applying the audience sensitivity. There are very few people who could argue that language should not be context and audience sensitive and they are the people who swear at their grandmother, in job interviews and at police men. Needless to say, their arguments often don't end well. So what's really left to decide is the extent to which you should use foul language in each context and that really is a subjective decision and is decided by the listening audience.

Caveat lector; if you're not prepared to encounter rude words, don't surf the web

I would have to disagree with this on the grounds that it fails to take into consideration the viewpoints of others. An extreme case of this argument is "if you don't want to be murdered, don't live" (which is quite silly but same logic). The statement effectively entails that the most extreme viewpoint is the accepted one and everyone should just accept that. It's a pretty sad society that respects the rights of extremists at the expense of the rights of the majority. Having said that, it is also a sad society that respects the rights of the majority at the expense of the minority. Foul language is a particularly interesting case actually, because it is difficult to say which side of this equation foul language actually sits on.

Regardless, what is required is a balance and that balance comes about by both sides being considerate of the other. People who like foul language or at least feel that it's use is nessecary should go happily use it in places where it is considered acceptable and people who object to it should frequent places where it is not. Those who use swearing should be prepared to be told off at times when they use it in the wrong place, apologise and go elsewhere (or control their language) and those that don't like foul language should be prepared to stumble into "the wrong area of town" every now and then and see some swearing. When they do they should just move on to somewhere else which they find less offensive.

The compromise goes a bit further in that people who use foul language should take a bit of care to ensure that their language is avoidable - ie: they are not screaming it at the top of their lungs in a public space, and people with conservative views should ensure that their views are avoidable as well, ie: they leave enough places for swearing to be used and that they show the same respect if they happen to be religious or have some other view.

Strangely, while that may sound like an ideal world, it's actually how things work in the real world for the most part, which is a reassuring thought.

[ Parent ]

Context (none / 0) (#147)
by rde on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 02:54:09 AM EST

An extreme case of this argument is "if you don't want to be murdered, don't live" (which is quite silly but same logic). The statement effectively entails that the most extreme viewpoint is the accepted one and everyone should just accept that
A more accurate analogy would, I reckon, be "if you don't want to be murdered, don't walk down a dark alley singing 'We're in the money'". Take another aspect of the web's less salubrious side; porn. Although the case is grossly overstated by hype-hungry news media, it is relatively easy to accidentally come across naked women (so to speak). However prurient you are, or how judicious your surfing, you're going to encounter something you don't like sooner or later. This sounds horribly like a "my friends are jumping off a cliff" argument, but I see no reason to limit my vocabulary when a) I don't believe my words should be offensive to anyone, and b) it's not going to make a blind bit of difference in overall terms.

I would have to disagree with [caveat lector] on the grounds that it fails to take into consideration the viewpoints of others
Hrm. Yes and no. Going back to my earlier point about search engines: is it acceptable to swear on a web page that google regularly indexes, or should there be a 'deny' for every such page in your robots.txt? I would contend that surfers are at this stage well used to encountering rude words/porn/bad grammar, and each surfer has to decide for him or herself upon encountering these whether they want to continue reading. Certainly there's a point about credibilty to be made, but this pales into insignificance compared to he badly-written composition, IMO.

I'm struggling, by the way, to come up with a collective term for those words that certain parts of the population don't like. It's hardly bad language - I'd reserve that description for malformed grammar and punctuation - and 'foul language' doesn't really fit either. Strictly speaking, it's neither cursing nor swearing, and "words that have been arbitrarily deemed by a pseudo-consensus to be unacceptable in a public forum" is a trifle unwieldy.

[ Parent ]
Good example (none / 0) (#98)
by epepke on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 06:35:08 PM EST

To prove this to yourself ask a random sampling of women if they'd prefer to be asked to "make love" or even "have sex" rather than "fuck". The word "fuck" has the negative connotations in that it is often used as sex for pure physical gratification rather than for love (and almost everyone would prefer to be loved and have sex than just to have sex). If you were to say "hey, let's fuck" you'd come across as highly insensitive, whereas saying something like "Darling, would you like to make love?" comes across as at least somewhat romantic.

This is a marvelous example of why limiting language to the bourgeois acceptable is a monstrous practice. Those who know fucking and making love understand that both are great things and neither is to be eschewed in favor of the other. Fucking without making love is ultimately dull, but making love without fucking becomes sterile. Deciding that one is "better" than the other leads to emotional deficiencies the same way and for the same reason that omitting food groups leads to nutritional deficiencies. There is a reason that the last line in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut was "Let's fuck" and not "Let's make love." Let's see if you can figure it out. Whether you liked the movie or not, the reason for that line was the whole of what the movie was about.

Frank Zappa pointed out, quite correctly, that this is destructive. To get on the radio, you can't say "let's fuck" or "let's fill in the blank"; you have to say "let's make love" which perverts the notion of love by changing the entire context in which the word is used. Everyone knows that Robert Plant in "Whole Lotta Love" is singing about his penis or at least what he imagines about his penis.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Sometimes I want a negative connotation (none / 0) (#94)
by zakalwe on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 04:40:27 PM EST

The connotations that they carry is usually the very reason why I would want to use them in the first place. After all, sometimes a offensive, negative or even juvenile connotation is exactly what I'm trying to communicate. Swear words are extremely useful when trying to convey an emotional subtext like annoyance, anger, exasperation, or as a general emphasis.
... people who swear are less likely to convey their opinion to me as they will be first and foremost communicating to me that they do not have the intellect to craft their speech or writing into a form which best presents their meaning.
Perhaps the swearing does best convey their meaning - you're still assuming that there is a better way to convey it where in fact they may have in fact chosen the words that best convey their feelings, but which you choose to interpret as "juvenile" or lack of intelligence/consideration because you arbitrarily have decided that this is the only reason they could possibly be using this means of expression.

Admittedly, in many cases they may be swearing because that is normal behaviour within their own social groups, and they use their same manner with you. In this case I suppose you are a little justified since they haven't taken the effort to tailor their words to the conventions of their audience - but you're still misinterpreting their words if you write them off as laziness, lack of intelligence. or articulation. They are still writing in a form that presents their meaning, just not the form that best presents their meaning to you.

[ Parent ]

I agree. (none / 0) (#84)
by JonesBoy on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 12:44:30 PM EST

This reminds me of the famous quote:

"profanity is the literary crutch of the inarticulate motherfucker"

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
"Pop" Lyrics (4.28 / 7) (#60)
by sgp on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 10:05:18 PM EST

What really gets me, is when popular radio stations play songs which include excessive swearing.

My best examples would be Limp Bizkit (who rock) and Eminem (who's kinda interesting for a while).

I really enjoy listening to an album, even if the profanity involves every other word. I really hate to listen to a track on the radio, though, if they have to remove every other word (by a bleep or by silence). It disrupts the flow of the music.

"We don't, don't give a f**k and we won't, ever give a f**k until you, you give a f**k about me, and my generation. So go ahead and talk s**t. Talk s**t about me...."

Anyway, I think that's how it goes. I don't really notice it on the album. But when the radio station insists on playing this track, most of which they can't broadcast, it really gets on my t*ts. Why bother playing it at all, if you're going to ruin the flow of the track?

Some may argue whether or not it's art. If it's not, don't play it. If it is, don't play with it.

But as far as on-line goes, I think that many of us have learned lessons from google's archiving of old NNTP postings. I've found a few embarrasing posts from myself back in the early 90's (none of which included profanity) - if I swear in 2001 because it saves me a minute's thinking, it could come back to haunt me in 2021.


There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Radio Censorship (3.50 / 2) (#102)
by Tom Rowlands on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 02:04:11 AM EST

I don't really notice it on the album. But when the radio station insists on playing this track, most of which they can't broadcast, it really gets on my t*ts. Why bother playing it at all, if you're going to ruin the flow of the track?

We're lucky enough in Australia to have Triple J (RA stream available). They are a publicly owned national broadcaster; the youth arm of the excellent Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Perhaps this is Australian culture specific, but Triple J only occasionally censor the music they play. Limp Bizkit's Hot Dog for example, is played true, as is NiN's Closer. Not all radio stations censor what they broadcast. There are certainly other commercial Australian broadcasters that do. I'm just proud of the ABC and Triple J. :-)

--

Tom Rowlands

(Sorry, I can't sign this.)

[ Parent ]

[OT] Ironically, radio edits can be better (none / 0) (#139)
by Shpongle Spore on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 01:07:45 PM EST

I usually hate it when songs are censored for the radio, but I can think on one example where it was a big improvement. The first time I heard "Martin Scorcesse" by King Missle, it was on the radio and it kicked ass. I didn't even realize it had been edited. The whole point of the song seemed to be that the singer is getting incredibly worked up over Scorcesse's movies, so the added silence in the song made it sound like he was too excited to even keep talking. I was awfully disappointed when I heard the real version, because adding "fucking" as every 4th word makes it sound like a ham-fisted parody of Scorcesse, which just isn't nearly as funny as imagining a crazed fan too excited to talk.
__
I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
[ Parent ]
What do you say when you are really fucked? (4.50 / 6) (#66)
by chinhdo on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 11:23:06 PM EST

I think there are two problems here with the use of foul language in public forums. First is the misuse of language. When you say "fuck" all the time, what do you say when you are really fucked? The second problem is the failure to tailor your language to the audience. Just as you adjust your language when speaking in front of a bunch of kids, or your best buddies, or your grandma, you should use neutral language in public forums where you don't know the exact make-up of the audience.

Usually, I can't utter coherent words... (4.50 / 2) (#115)
by Scandal on Fri Dec 28, 2001 at 05:29:31 PM EST

Topic for another day, perhaps. *grin*

Let's take a look at the opposite of your proposal. By using the language you would normally use with your buddies (assuming you stop being pretentious or guarded or whatever and just say what you want to say when you're with your buddies), the 'net offers us an opportunity to be the kind of people that we really are, profanity included. It's easier to be chummy with those with whom you can just cut loose and be yourself, no? The lack of social conventions is itself a form of freedom, and might just be the real draw of forums such as these.

I spent many, many years hiding myself behind social conventions and "what others expect me to be". It sucks, and I could never get it right, anyway. It's self betrayal, the worst there is, and I've never seen a better-paved route to a living Hell.

I therefore rail against anyone who suggests we should adjust ourselves to conform to "social norms". Consider yourself duly railed against.

"In other words, fuck that shit." -- epepke


*Scandal*


[ Parent ]
Flaws in the theory (4.75 / 8) (#67)
by Hobbes2100 on Tue Dec 25, 2001 at 11:36:17 PM EST

Your theory was very interesting, interesting enough to make me really wonder what its merits (and demerits) were.

I pretty quickly came up with what I consider a comparable situation. The authors of novels (and of poetry, short stories, articles; i.e. all strictly written media) have not resorted to the use of the "seven deadly words" (or, if they have, at least to only a minimal extent compared to the 'net). So, I have to say that the hypothesis that the profanity on the 'net is explained by the lack of other means of expression is not correct.

However, I do think that there are certain characteristics of 'net communication. The most significant of these is anonymity. Even individuals who choose to use their real names and provide addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information are not fundamentally connected to those with which they communicate. Perhaps anonymity isn't the best term for this condition, but I'll try to clarify the idea.

If I were to respond to UncleMikey calling him any number of profane slurs, I could do so with no real concern for what he thought about me. I will, most likely, never run into him on the street. Even if we did pass, we wouldn't know that we were the face connected to our avatars (unless we were wearing "Hi, I'm Hobbes2100 from K5" shirts). So, I have zero real threat of any physical retaliation and I have little real threat of any other retaliation from UncleMikey (ok, it could happen, but the point is we don't think about it).

Now, my alter ego, Hobbes2100, could suffer some damage in credibility from using certain language. He could also suffer damage from presenting stupid ideas. But, neither of these (will tend to) reflect upon me, myself, and I. It reminds me of my MUD days. Certain players would have high level, friendly characters but would also run PK (player killer) characters that devastated virtual lives (no, I'm not bitter *smile*).

One other note (sorry if I'm losing coherence), imagine a "small village" situation. You are a farmer and you rely on the local supply store for fertilizer, seed, and other necessities. Now, say you and the proprietor of the supply shop have a bit of a tiff. Since you rely on the store owner and, perhaps, the store owner relies on your food, it is in both of your interests to maintain a cordial tone and manner. I think the 'net is almost a complete opposite of this scenario; we can always find other forums and people to argue with (and we can always login as Hobbes0012).

Another note, it's a heck of a lot easier to drop a couple F-bombs then it is to come up with a truly witty, biting comment ("Your mother was hampster and your father was the mud-slinging son of a architect" ... see, it's not that easy).

Regards,
Mark
Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --Iuvenalis
But who will guard the guardians themselves? -- Juvenal

Negitive trust (3.50 / 2) (#68)
by hardburn on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 12:40:44 AM EST

Perhaps anonymity isn't the best term for this condition, but I'll try to clarify the idea.

"Psedo-anonymous" is the accepted term for this among crypto people.

Now, my alter ego, Hobbes2100, could suffer some damage in credibility from using certain language. He could also suffer damage from presenting stupid ideas. But, neither of these (will tend to) reflect upon me, myself, and I. It reminds me of my MUD days. Certain players would have high level, friendly characters but would also run PK (player killer) characters that devastated virtual lives (no, I'm not bitter *smile*).

This is the concept of "negitive trust". That is, trusting someone less than you would a complete stranger. The general rule is "there is no negitive trust on the Internet", because if you screw up in some major way that destroys your credibility, you can always create a new screen name or move to another fourm and start fresh.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Fair point, but... (4.66 / 3) (#81)
by UncleMikey on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 09:57:10 AM EST

The authors of novels (and of poetry, short stories, articles; i.e. all strictly written media) have not resorted to the use of the "seven deadly words

I actually considered this fact when writing up my hypothesis. In a different environment, I probably would have included it as part of the argument. K5, however, tends to encourge only middling-sized essays, and since I hoped the point would come up in argument, I left it out.

The point itself is certainly well taken; and I would also point out that I myself have tended to avoid the use of profanity on the 'Net, unless I was in a hurry, or the context seemed to allow it. You are certainly correct in saying that even plain written English, without excessive markup, has the ability to convey a wide range of emotions when weidled skillfully.

However, I would point out that most people, from my experience, treat their 'Net postings not as writing, but as conversation that happens with their fingers on a keyboard rather than their vocal cords. This very discussion shows good examples of both mindsets. The 'vocal' mindset tends to lend itself more to 'shorthand'. My thesis is that, lacking tone-of-voice and volume cues (and lacking a kind of markup that clearly expresses a negative emotional emphasis), there's a tendency to fall back on profanity.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]

Well, bloody well bugger it! (2.50 / 2) (#71)
by ragnarok on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 02:06:45 AM EST

If you want a humorous view of the whole fair fucking deal, try "The Great Australian Adjective":

"The sunburnt bloody stockman stood
And in a dismal bloody mood,
Apostrophized his bloody cuddy:
"This bloody moke's no bloody good,
He doesn't earn his bloody food,
Bloody! Bloody! Bloody!

Etc. Just to fill you in, in Australasian English, "bloody" is a swear word. It's the bloody word bloody Australians are bloody-well known for. Abso-bloody-lutely - Bugger it!

And if you can't fill yourselves in on what I am getting at, well you should be.


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies

Inverse skimming? (4.33 / 6) (#73)
by periFeral on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 02:40:04 AM EST

Perhaps this is connected to the way that people interact with language on the Web....

I remember reading in a study on Web usability (Web Site Usability: A Designer's Guide) that web page copy was generally more effective — and more completely comprehended — when the average grade level of the language was higher than that of, say, advertising copy. One specific datum was particularly notable. The authors found that the Hewlett-Packard site, when they tested it, was regarded by the test groups as "highly readable," yet it had a Gunning Fog index of 15.3. Normally, text with a Gunning Fog index higher than 12 is regarded as "incomprehensible to most readers."

What the authors proposed was that this was due to a tendency to skim text on the Web rather than read it: the more complex the text (and this is especially the case with the Gunning Fog index, as it measures average syllabic complexity) the more "big words" can be immediately recognized. This would allow a quick apprehension of the content (assuming that the reader was familiar with the words) without a large investment of time.

Flip this to its inverse: would that suggest that there is a tendency to write in a manner that involves a minimal investment of time, relying on profanity to communicate by context? This would reduce the effort required for syntactic construction, especially as it applies to implication and logical structure, replacing it with communicative assumptions based on common use of idiom.

I wonder whether the increasing exposure to broadband media — full DivX flics in hours instead of days — and the easy-use interfaces of AOL and various other GUI applications — formatting without markup, toolbars instead of arcane command-line switches — contribute to expectations of "mediated immediacy" (to borrow terms from Hakim Bey) and its attendant instant apprehension of represented (as opposed to present) sense data. I also wonder how, or if, the ubiquitous use of IM clients and file sharing applications play into this.

Not that I feel that this is in any way connected to a putative "culture of instant gratification." I'm thinking more along the lines of something that James Carse mentioned in Finite and Infinite Games: that machines (and, in this case, information systems) don't extend the capabilities of the users. Rather, he argued that users extend the structure and implementation of their machines.

The point about the declining use of asterisks does present a quandary, though. I suspect that this might be related to the declining percentage of educated users — the Internet no longer being a privileged system, but rather one open to anyone who buys a Gateway or a Dell. There might have been an awareness, at first, that one was posting to a community of peers, and there might have been some hesitation regarding appropriate conduct. The existence of a more diversified user base might have changed that... as it has changed the general character of even specialized lists for the design community [ref: article on A List Apart].

But that's just a guess. I wasn't there in the early days.



Oh my God, you've all missed Uncle Mikey's point! (4.20 / 5) (#75)
by Nf3 on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 03:34:35 AM EST

Rather than propose a position against which you all could rail, he asked a question which some of you, in true k5 manner have answered interestingly, but which most of you have missed entirely.

There is both a cognitave and a generational element at play here, if we want to grab this issue by the gonads.

Cognative: what we say, infuences what we think, which influences what we do. Or: our understanding of things, defined by how we explain / describe them: will dictate our actions.

Generational: That 20 something blonde who knocked on my door in her night gown without undies tonight knew I was an older guy, but she also knew that by my uptodate usage of profanity online and by my awareness of current state reality as contrasted to old fogey, letters behind your name, misunderstanding of how things really are now, head up your ass, adequacy oriented, recta fossal (for those of you who know Latin) ambiguity ridden angst, I was of her type. I was/am real and I was/am alive.

Uncle Mikey has pointed us toward a significant thing. A sea change in our language, led by how we speak online, which may point the way toward an incredibly novel future. In doing so he's done something way cool, imho.


It's getting better (4.00 / 2) (#82)
by UncleMikey on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 09:59:49 AM EST

For the first couple of days, most respondents did indeed waste their time debating the relative merits of foul language in and of itself, while ignoring (or perhaps missing) the question I was trying to explore: not whether profanity is good or bad, but why it's growing in prevalance on the modern 'Net.

That said, some of the discussion even of the good/bad question has actually been quite interesting, and now at least a few people are starting to look at the question I actually asked, and provide their answers, so it's All Good(tm).
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]

Heh. (3.60 / 5) (#77)
by NovaHeat on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 04:30:26 AM EST

Reading through the comment threads, it really doesn't surprise me that a large number of the threads under a topic about internet swearing degenerate into expletive-filled flamewars such as:

"You, sir, are an illiterate boor!"

"well fuck u up the fuking goatass u cocksucking cuntbag."

"You have only proved my point, sir, that you are, without a shadow of a doubt, an idiot. How, then, does it feel to know that whenever you open your mouth, you are telling everyone you are an idiot, sir?"

"Pfff. Ya whatever u shit-eating cockpope. Maybe u should take ur own FUCKING advice u assliking quearbate"

*sigh* Good times... good times. :)

-----

Rose clouds of flies.

Step by step (4.33 / 6) (#83)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 10:00:14 AM EST

Overuse of "bad" words is merely a step on the path to having no "bad" words anymore. When overused, they lose their stigma, and therefore they also no longer give the emphasis they used to, and their use will fall back to that of any other words. Ride it out, the concept of "bad" words is too stupid - I'll be glad when it's gone. I hope I live long enough.
___
Length 17, Width 3
Nail on the head: overuse desensitizes (5.00 / 4) (#85)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 12:46:21 PM EST

I seldomly use cuss words.

Why?

That way when I do use them, I get the immediate attention of people who know me. When I use profanity, the people who know me are shocked, amazed and give me their immediate attention.

Think about it. When did the F-Bomb get the most notice? In Dog Day Afternoon where it was used practically every sentence by Al Pacino's character? Or in A Christmas Story where it wasn't even uttered unexpurgigated?

Think of eating desert. Ever eat a really, really rich desert and notice that the first couple bites go down like a sweet rubber mallet to the pallette? Subsequent bites lose their impact because one's taste buds become desensitized to the overwhelming flavor. The solution is to alternate bites of the desert with something bitter (sips of black coffee, dry wine, etc.).

Swear words are the same. If they aren't used sparingly, they lose their impact in an ocean of profanity.

-l

[ Parent ]

The phrase you're looking for... (4.50 / 2) (#88)
by Luyseyal on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 02:04:43 PM EST

The Law of Diminishing Returns

-l

[ Parent ]

That would be it (none / 0) (#90)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 02:40:48 PM EST

Thanks!

[ Parent ]
Why I say "fuck" and "shit" (4.41 / 17) (#86)
by epepke on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 01:06:01 PM EST

It's political speech. Really.

What are now known as the British Isles once had a fairly decent culture, with the influence of the Celts, the Angles, and the Saxons. Everyone knows who Boadicea was, and not too many other cultures had women as generals. Of course, the Romans were not entirely repulsed, but most of their influence worked out pretty well. Through the end of the first millenium, most rule in Britain was clan-based, making use of councils that were quite democratic for their time. As English began to cohere as a language, words like "fuck" and "shit" were used by everybody, kings and farmers alike.

Then, in 1066, William the Conqueror conquered England and essentially enslaved all the people with a rigid hierarchy that was to grow into the feudal system. One of the public relations efforts was an attempt to make the people living there ashamed of the language they used. Words like "fuck" and "shit" became "vulgar," literally of the people. They were considered low class compared to the "correct" Norman French forms. The enslavement was literal, a feudal system of lords and serfs whereby lords could kill serfs when they liked, got free sex with newlyweds, etc., and it only began to weaken with the Magna Carta in 1215 but did not really extend to the common people until about a century and a half after that. Even then, the rigid class system maintained as tradition until this day. All languages have swear words, but only English has this kind of socially engineered, class-based system of "four-letter" words.

I have been hearing for decades about how teaching American Standard English to African-American children is cultural genocide. I'm skeptical; I think that children can easily learn to become bilingual. In any event, I find it appalling in that context how a genuine and explicit use of language to enforce slavery at the hands of the Normans is so ingrained that people to this day do not even wonder why they consider such words "bad," that a political ploy by some French slaveholders should remain internalized by the ex-slaves almost one-thousand years after the fact. Most of us do not even question our assumptions that these words are somehow inherently bad.

There have been some small rebellions against this. In the late 19th century, to quote Bill Bryson in Made In America, "Angela Heywood launghed a spirited campaign for free love in which she made the universal acceptance of the word fuck a central tenet. Why should she be compelled to use the term 'generative sexual intercourse' in her lectures? she repeatedly asked. 'Three words, 27 letters, to define a given action...commonly spoken in one word of four letters that everybody knows the meaning of.'" In the 20th century, of course, there were J.D. Salinger and Lenny Bruce, but the pendulum always seems to swing back. It is still against FCC rules to use Saxon terms when the corresponding French terms are considered appropriate, the opposite of George Orwell's advice..

I think it's time for the rest of the world to get over their inferiority complex with respect to the French. Jerry Lewis isn't that funny, and neither were La Petomaine, the Treaty of Versailles, the colonization of Vietnam and most of the Middle East, the invasion of the Sinai Peninsula, the capitulation to Germany during World War II, or the opportunistic fence-sitting during the Cold War. Napoleon was a jerk. It's really OK to bathe more than once a week and have bathrooms indoors with doors that close. Australian wines taste better and so do most other cuisines. Shakespeare wrote better plays, and even Hollywood makes better movies, admittedly along with a lot of crap. They did produce Jacques Tati and they do like Philip K. Dick, but that only goes so far. In other words, fuck that shit.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


Right Fuckin' On! [n/t] (none / 0) (#114)
by Scandal on Fri Dec 28, 2001 at 05:11:56 PM EST

Merely rating this comment a 5 doesn't do it justice.


*Scandal*


[ Parent ]
Writing for effect (4.27 / 11) (#89)
by jolly st nick on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 02:25:48 PM EST

I have no qualm with the "decorum" of "profane" words. Framing the discussion on the appropriateness of "vulgar" language is simply the wrong way (in my opinion) to look at the issue. I am more concerned with the fairness with which a writer treats the reader, and the skill and effort put into the words.

Every writer is a karma whore or troll at heart. By this I mean anyone who (figuratively) picks up a pen is hoping for a response. What distinguishes the troll is a lack of sincerity. To elicit a response with your true opinions requires (a) insight and (b) skill. You earn your response by thinking about a topic and crafting your words carefully. Accomplishing this entails vulnerability and effort, for which you deserve to be rewarded. Trolls essentially freeload on the community's attention span by adopting a position from which it is easy to invoke a response and using fairly rote inflammatory language. Trolling is reprehensible because it is a cheap way to get a response(although in rare instances one does encounter trolls of equisite skill).

Bringing this back to the issue of "bad words", my own take is that they are like exclamation points: best to use them sparingly. Words "Fuck", "Motherfucker", "Cunt", "Asshole" etc are at best crude indicators of emotional attitude. They are seldom used in any literal denotative sense and it is a stretch to call most of their appearances metaphorical. Overly free use of these is not informative or eloquent -- it's just a easy (and thus futile) means of calling attention to oneself.

A good case in point is UncleMikey's example:

The old machine and it's array were a bit fragile, and when they got moved (without rusty knowing about it), they broke.

vs.

The old K5 shit the bed when some jack-off moved it. They didn't even fuckin' tell rusty they were moving it until after it was broken. What assholes.

The latter, however, more completely conveys the exasperation which many of us here felt at the situation. Tone of voice is easier to reader to infer (and easier for the writer to imply).
First of all, you should note that the first (presumably less effective) example gives information that the second lacks -- that the old server was somewhat fragile. This indicates to some people who may not know it that moving machines doesn't automatically result in catastrophic failure. To others that already know that, this indicates that the problem was their not checking with Rusty first rather than, say, handling the server in an unusually rough manner.

Secondly, the "tone" communicated by the "vulgar" version is not particularly informative. The people who share this feeling don't need to be told it, and people who don't share it aren't given any means of grasping it. This kind of language implies a kind of egotistical assumption that your feelings matter, not because they are just or understandable, but simply because you are the person feeling them. It is all well and good for when my wife has this attitude when communicating with me, but remember I don't know you and I have no a prior investment in your feelings. If you are writing for strangers, you have to earn their sympathy and respect.

Skillful writing should either communicate something to you didn't know, or give you new ways of articulating and thinking about things you do know.

I think such words might be used skillfully , but not strung into a profanity laced rant where they tend to create a kind of emotionalistic incoherency. Better to use them, in very rare instances, in places where they would not be expected.

Times for profanity (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by unstable on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 04:47:33 PM EST

There are times when profanity is the best way to convey the situation (there may be other ways but none so direct and to the point)
Take for instance
You have a server and it hangs and needs to be rebooted
Saying

"The servers down is quite enough"

But say that same server starts smoking and you see a orange flickering comming from in the case.

"The server is probably never going to function again, as it is currently on fire"

is one way of stating the problem, but,

"The server is fucked"

get the point across so much better.
But then again I'm not an english major (in highschool my english marks were abismal [you could say "shitty"]) so my opinion may not weigh much.



Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

A personal story (4.57 / 7) (#101)
by rusty on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 12:43:53 AM EST

This has almost nothing to do with the article, as it didn't happen on the net at all. But it does tie in with profanity sometimes being an issue of tone, and sometimes being the only way to say what you have to say.

In high school, two of my friends decided to borrow one of their dad's truck, supposedly to go to the store or something. Of course, what they actually wanted to do was take it out in the sand pit down at the other end of the neighborhood and four-wheel around and act stupid. So they asked him if they could use the truck, and he said "Sure, just don't go down to the sand pit and act stupid." Which they promptly did.

Well, they got about 50 yards into the pit when they got it hopelessly stuck. So they trudged home, and got Dad, and told him the truck was stuck in the pit. He didn't say a word, just looked at them for a moment, then went to the garage, got a shovel, and got in the other car. My friends got in with him, and he headed for the pit.

This may be a good time to mention that the Dad in question looks quite a bit like Clint Eastwood, and in fact is often known as "Clint" amongst us, for looks and general attitude toward life.

Anyway, they arrived at the stuck vehicle. The Dad got out, stared at it for a minute, and said:

"This fucker's fucking fucked."

He dug out the wheels a bit, got in, wrangled the truck out of the dirt, and drove away, leaving my friends to bring back the other car. Those were the only words he ever said about the whole matter. Ever. And to this day, between these friends and I, the phrase is legendary, and contains a pretty deep and subtle and very specific shade of meaning. Like, if you claim that "this fucker's fucking fucked," that means that it has already resisted all normal tactics, and getting it unfucked will require turning to whatever expedient you most wanted to avoid. Basically, that means that "we're gonna have to do this the really hard and unpleasant way."

Well, that's my anecdote. Draw whatever conclusions you want from it. I just think it's a good story. And a frequently useful expression, if your friends are as collectively dumb as me and mine are.

____
Not the real rusty

Use (4.50 / 4) (#105)
by mlong on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 12:34:09 PM EST

Personally I think the user of profanity shows a lack of respect for others around you, or perhaps a lack of maturity. Using profanity in web discussions is pretty lame and unwarranted. Profanity should be reserved for those situations that need it...like when your china cabinet falls off the wall, or perhaps you accidentially cut off your hand, or you back your car into a tree.

Well, fuck me running (none / 0) (#110)
by wiredog on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 10:20:58 PM EST

Someone posts an article on my suggestion, and it gets to the front page, while I'm on vacation and not hitting the net. So I don't see it until it's been up a few days and has stories of incredible obviousness above it.

Good article, man. It's generated some interesting commentary.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"

Timing is everything :-) (none / 0) (#120)
by UncleMikey on Sat Dec 29, 2001 at 11:56:01 AM EST

Sorry, wiredog. If I'd known you were going to be on vacation, I'd have waited :-)
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]

S'alright (n/t) (none / 0) (#125)
by wiredog on Sun Dec 30, 2001 at 07:16:46 PM EST



Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Ancient egyptian wisdom (3.00 / 2) (#113)
by Echo5ive on Fri Dec 28, 2001 at 01:36:39 PM EST

"Dip not your pencil in the ink to hurt a man. The finger of the writer is like the beak of the ibis bird. Beware that it does not turn against you." (modern translation: "Right back at ya.")

"As you act, you will be acted against."

"A good word is a monument."

"The words of a man is his scale. It is this scale that allows others to see the weight of his words."

"Do not ruin the perfect moment by speaking too fast."

"The human body is larger than the Pharaoh's corn shed. It is filled with different answers; pick the one that is good to say and let the evil one be left behind."

"A man loses nothing by speaking mildly, his speech wins nothing by sounding rude."



--
Frozen Skies: mental masturbation.

because (3.66 / 3) (#121)
by anonymous cowerd on Sat Dec 29, 2001 at 07:46:48 PM EST

"Fuck" and "shit" are proscribed for exactly the same reason marijuana is illegal everywhere in the U.S., even when used as medicine; merely to give the power-mad a pretext by which to abuse their subject fellow-citizens.

Yours WD "fucked" K - WKiernan@concentric.net

A drowning man asks for pears from the willow tree.

Please (3.00 / 1) (#127)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Dec 30, 2001 at 09:47:28 PM EST

Did you think that comment up yourself, or did your mommy help you type it in?

Yeah, when "The Man" was sitting around thinking up ways to oppress and supress the masses, one of the very first things He did was ban all the really cool words, so that, like, people would be all disempowered and all.

Yup. And right after that, he decided what clubs you weren't allowed to join.

Snort.

All societies - even ours on K5 - have certain words that are banned from "polite" use - and once upon a time it was considered vulgar to make reference to the acts of excretion and intercourse. These days people apparently believe you should fuck anything that will hold still for a few minutes, so *that* word has lost just about all of it's taboo. Similarly, I hear or see the word "shit" so many times a day it's almost *less* obnoxious than hearing my four year old talk about "poop". Like "fuck", it's lost it's power and effectiveness.

But, like any society, we still have words like that we aren't supposeed to use. For example, derogatory references to ethnic groups, or (especially) gays and women, can get you in quite a lot of trouble in the work place. I can think of a certain "N" word that would make me very unpopular right here, if I were to use it.

It's not the word that causes people to get upset - it's the concept that the word refers to. A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet - and fucking is still an amusing (if sticky) way to spend a half hour - even if you have to call it "intercourse".


In any case, the loss of the power of words like "fuck" to really express true rage/anguish/pain seems to me to be a real loss to all of us. These days, someone who says "that fucking moron" merely sounds like a petulant teenager. I feel like I need a new list of swear words that I can use to express myself the next time I hear a brother's gotten himself arrested, or that my mother's had a heart attack.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
streetlawyer to the rescue (none / 0) (#137)
by streetlawyer on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 12:48:29 PM EST

In any case, the loss of the power of words like "fuck" to really express true rage/anguish/pain seems to me to be a real loss to all of us.

May I suggest, sir, that what you are looking for is the word "cunt", you stupid cunt.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

streetlawyer to the rescue (none / 0) (#138)
by streetlawyer on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 12:48:59 PM EST

In any case, the loss of the power of words like "fuck" to really express true rage/anguish/pain seems to me to be a real loss to all of us.

May I suggest, sir, that what you are looking for is the word "cunt", you cunt.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

I've been tending.... (none / 0) (#140)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 05:22:04 PM EST

towards pompously over-complicated insults, you slime-sucking throwback to the pre-cambrian.

"Cunt" just lacks flexibility - it's handy for calling people names, but useless for describing pain or anger - as in "fuck yourself with a pine cone!"



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
What do the 'Cuss Words' mean? (none / 0) (#123)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sun Dec 30, 2001 at 02:14:27 AM EST

I'm just quite curious what the definition of these words are (or where they origionally derive). Well, Carlin (and the FCC) made that clear for us.

Shit - Excrement, Explitavive (similar to che (as in check) in japanese)

Piss - The other excrement word, Also can be used as a feeling (You're Pissin' me off.).

Fuck - Sex, Kill (movie cliche) Wasn't this derived from Rome?

Cunt - Women's vaginal region. I've read that this is Latin word. I cannot remember the root. Of what I do remember, it was thier equilavalent of vagina.

Tits - Women's other "sexual" region, breasts. Guys have 1, women have 2.

Cock (cocksucker) - Guy's penis (hopefully not women's ;-) I've heard that this also derives from latin root.


My main point is that I really don't know what these mean, as there is other, more truer meanings behind these 'today' meanings. Does anybody have insight on this?



Etymology (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by epepke on Sun Dec 30, 2001 at 07:25:27 PM EST

Shit - Excrement, Explitavive (similar to che (as in check) in japanese)

Gee, I wonder what the Japanese think of Che Guevara?

Fuck - Sex, Kill (movie cliche) Wasn't this derived from Rome?

Nope. "Fuck" is from Middle English "Fuch," which is from Middle German "Fuchen" which is to plant a seed in the ground by pushing it in with a stick. I trust the metaphor is obvious. In 14th century English, one can still find references to "fucking the soil." NOTE: "Middle German" refers to the AGE of the German dialect, as in between "New" and "Old", not to its relationship between "High" and "Low" German.

Cunt - Women's vaginal region. I've read that this is Latin word. I cannot remember the root. Of what I do remember, it was thier equilavalent of vagina.

"Cunt" has the same root as "acquaintance" and was originally a euphemism for vagina or vulva, roughly, "familiar thing," much like the term "private parts." Oddly, Yiddish "Schmuck" is from German "Schmuck" meaning jewel and literally means "the family jewels," which you may have heard as a euphemism for penis and scrotum.

Tits - Women's other "sexual" region, breasts. Guys have 1, women have 2.

Really? What isotopes were your parents smoking, and how many chromosomes do you have anyway? I have the same number of tits that most women have, and mine are bigger than some. And that six-breasted woman in the movie was obviously fake--hell, one of them even started peeling off. On the other hand, the make-up job in Total Recall was pretty good. Anyway, "tit" or even "teat" is a perfectly decent Germanic/Saxon word.

Cock (cocksucker) - Guy's penis (hopefully not women's ;-) I've heard that this also derives from latin root.

Nope. Pure Germanic. By the way, "cock" is literally just the marker for a male bird, in the sense that "bull" is the marker for a male mammal and "wer" was the marker for a male human (sadly lost now, except in "werewolf"). The penes of birds, however, are not terribly impressive, so I'm not sure how this usage got started. Some say that people in the past were, ahem, shorter than they are now. Also, in birds, it's the females who have the Y chromosomes, but you probably don't care.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Offensive? (3.00 / 1) (#124)
by n0mj121 on Sun Dec 30, 2001 at 06:48:17 AM EST

Let me test something...

Fuck.

Did you feel offended? No? Didn't think so. I will try it again...

Shit

Offended that time?
How can anyone be offended when they see one word? Yes, it can be combined with other words to cause offence, but so can anything. For example:

'Joe wouldn't know how to turn a PC on'

There is no one killer word in this sentence, but if you are Joe you could still be offended.
Also,

'Oh shit, I just dropped my tea'

This has the word'o'death, shit, but is not offensive to anyone, because it is not constructed that way. If it was

'Oh you shit, you made me drop my tea'

then it would be offensive, because the word shit is directed at someone.

It is all in the construction, not in the word. But being a strong exclamation, swearing can swing an insulting/offensive/hurtful statement even further.

Lowest common denominator (none / 0) (#129)
by Ixohoxi on Sun Dec 30, 2001 at 11:05:08 PM EST

I think many people here are missing the mark. My own hypothesis is based upon the principles of conformity and intelligence.

Conformity is really, really strong in the United States these days. Most of America's youth are concerned with being popular. If you aren't popular, you can be at a big disadvantage socially. We humans are very social animals, and just like in the wild, if you are "weaker", you are prey. Those who are prey become the means by which the "predators" achieve social dominance. After all, who usually gets the hot cheerleader types in high school - the popular jock or the reserved scholar?

Being popular is about conforming to social norms. Lately, our society has drifted away from proper speech. For many kids, it's not cool to sound like a "geek". Besides that, many kids don't have a grasp of the English language that enables them to understand proper speech. The result of it all is an overall dumbing-down of speech. If one doesn't have a good grasp of the language, are they ever going to improve after their formal education phase is complete?

As far as intelligence goes, I don't propose that people are less intelligent today compared to decades ago. What I do see however, is a lack of effort on a large scale throughout "pop-culture". Many people want to achieve as much as possible with as little effort as possible. "Get rich quick" schemes are one word away from "get popular quick" schemes. This whole concept of being "cool" has dramatically affected our society, further polarizing people into yet another hierarchy - popular or unpopular.

There are many things that are classifiable as "cool" by pop-culture; slang words, specifically vulgar words, fall into this category. Perhaps this is why for years, much of popular music has been laden with profanity. One need look no further than musicians/groups such as Limp Bizkit or Eminem for examples. Which reminds me of another fad - phonetic misspellings are now cool too. Why be cool when you can be "kewl"? Why be skilled when you can have skillz? Even products we buy in stores use this trick to garner name recognition.

In summary, I think it is simply the dumbing-down of our own society, on many levels, which is contributing to the rise of profanity in common speech. Yes, another large component is that people today care alot less about each other, and thus rarely show respect, tact, or courtesy towards their fellow human beings. We as a society are becoming intellectually lazy, emotionally desensitized, and greedy as hell. These things are caused by the dumbing-down of emotions, which is also rampant today.

being a young, foul-mouthed kinda guy... (4.00 / 1) (#133)
by lnxcwby on Tue Jan 01, 2002 at 04:18:34 PM EST

i agree with mikey, in that when i post somewhere or write an email, or irc'ing, it's basically the keyboard being an extention of my mouth. i don't capitalize words, i use excessive punctuation, lots of ... , etc :-) so when i get excited or agitated, i'll slip a "fuck" or "shit" into the mix. it's the way that i would talk, and i'm a verbal kind of person.

in direct response to mikey's question:

No, this is just a quest for thoughts on why blue langauge should come so easily to our lips -- or fingers, rather -- without any attempt to gloss it over, when even five years ago we would at least have thrown in a few f**king asterisks. :-) I've told you my hypothesis, above. What's yours?

i can't speak for the older people out there, but i'm 23, i dropped out of college, and fuck, i barely graduated high school, but i'm a gigantic fucking geek, and i'm good at my job (ask mikey) and this is the way that i convey my feelings, i've been told several times at the office to "tone it down" and i make a concerted effort, but it's just me, be that good or bad.

maybe i'm just too young, maybe i'm the foul-mouthed voice of a new generation, who the fuck knows... but i read k5 because there isn't that underlying desire of the readers or posters to *** stuff out. it seems honest.

cheers!
.l.


To quote Flanders and Swann... (none / 0) (#134)
by Obvious Pseudonym on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 03:34:04 AM EST

"If we use those words all the time we'll have nothing left for special occasions..."

Obvious Pseudonym

I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.

Profanity as shortcut (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by sera on Wed Jan 02, 2002 at 10:33:42 AM EST

No doubt there are multiple factors to why there's so much swearing online. Let me suggest one that I haven't seen anyone else bring up: Profanity is often a shortcut to effective writing, and people need shortcuts more now that they're writing more.

First, let me say where I stand personally on profanity: I don't think there's really anything wrong with profanity, but there's often a more nuanced way to express the same thing. Yes, sometimes you need to use "fuck" and only "fuck" will do. But more often precision is valuable, and swear words tend to be too loaded to be precise.

Writing is a skill, and most of aren't very good at it. This is more of a question of environment than of innate talent. Anybody can become an expert writer, but like most anything else, it takes a little time and attention. Once upon a time many people learned how to do this, before the invention of telephones and telegraphs, when people had to put their most intimate or important thoughts into letters. But after we became dependent on electronic media to transmit our own thoughts and feelings -- and you could argue that with the advent of one-way media like TV we forgot that our own feelings were even worth the trouble -- writing proficiency started to drop out of the culture.

Enter the internet, which makes the demands of writing at the speed of speech. Not that I don't know the stats exactly, but can you imagine how much more writing an average 16-year-old does today than e would've done 20 years ago? Without email, web discussion boards, instant messenger ... But it's still just text, with all of its limitations and strengths. Most people can't write well-crafted prose into a chat window, so they resort to shortcuts. Emoticons are one, swear words are another.

I've noticed this for a while because I always try to write fairly well-structured, clear prose online. But I know I'm an unusual case. For one thing, I simply love written prose. For another, I write quite a bit -- sometimes even for money -- and I like keeping in practice.

firmament.to: Every text is an index.

I think I might have a handle on this..... (5.00 / 1) (#143)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 11:06:22 AM EST

So, I think streetlawyer reminded me of something when he called me a cunt.

When he did that, I was momentarily startled, but not really hurt or offended - more amused than anything. And that reminded me of a past episode in my life...

Several years ago I quoted a line from "Blazing Saddles" where the sherriff takes himself hostage and yells "Nobody move or the n***** gets it!" - now, this is a black man in a comedy saying this line, and (at the time) I felt no harm in repeating it. Except that a black man who heard me say it became incredibly upset and there were, as they say, repercussions.

For months I was furious at the man for being so hyper-sensitive. Then I realized that part of the problem was that there was simply no word in the English language that you could use on me that would actually hurt me - for example, 'cunt' was startling but hardly hurtful. Not nearly as bad as if streetlawyer had insulted the quality of my code. This led me to some appreciation of how, just because I have a hide like a rhino doesn't mean everyone else does. (Not to mention a certain pavlovian flinch when it comes to the use of racial slurs. :-P)

What I'm wondering is if this characteristic is common among either geeks or young white american males (and face it, 90% of the geeks are also young white american males).

But in a sense, that just begs the question - instead of wondering why we've become more foul-mouthed on the 'net, we have to wonder why we've become less sensitive in this age of diversity training and affirmative action?

eh. I have to get back to work, so I'm just gonna leave that question as an exercise for the reader.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
heh (none / 0) (#144)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 12:16:02 PM EST

Of course, the reason I put it in there was to demonstrate the impact of the word, which is better than asserting how important it was.

I think you're utterly wrong on racial slurs. In recent history, and to a certain extent today, the use of the epithet "nigger" by a white person to a black person has been associated with imminent physical violence far more frequently than any other verbal assault I can think of. So when you say that it's a "Pavlovian" response, this is in the original sense of being a learned behaviour in response to other people's conditioning, rather than an unreasonable knee-jerk reaction.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

I guess I wasn't clear... (none / 0) (#145)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 12:42:13 PM EST

The pavlovian response is mine - after what I went through as a result using the slur, I tend to flinch when ever I hear it.

But, I agree - the amount of historical hate summarized in that word (when used by a white person) certainly givens any modern person a reason to get upset when they hear it.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
uhhh (none / 0) (#146)
by QuantumG on Sat Jan 05, 2002 at 06:22:11 AM EST

about 1% of all the "geeks" I have met have been young white american males.. perhaps you should leave your home country / racial group / age group / deminished social life before coming to these startly conclusions.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
uh huh. (none / 0) (#148)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 05:49:26 PM EST

And, how many lines of code are generated in your country each year?

Perhaps you should take that chip off your shoulder and try looking at your situation a bit more realisticly.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Antiethnocentricity (none / 0) (#149)
by Zeroboy on Mon Jan 07, 2002 at 01:11:17 AM EST

India is the second largest contributor to software in the world. China is third. A majority of Linux contributors and maintainers come from Europe. There are several large games companies based in the UK, and many US based ones outsource to foreign countries (like Australia, eg. Interplay: outsourced to Microforte, a former Australian games company, for the entire Fallout line of games). The reason 90% of geeks you know are white Americans is because you go to American sites, use American irc servers, and so on and so forth. there is an entire world out there, and while it's undeniable that the US is the main code contributor to the world, it isn't the ONLY code contributor to the world, not even 90% of it. Think about expanding your horizons before flaming people who disagree with your ethnocentric world view.

[ Parent ]
I worked in the US for half a year (none / 0) (#151)
by QuantumG on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 01:47:04 PM EST

Almost everyone in my company came from Europe or Asia with the exception of marketing.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Rationalisation (none / 0) (#150)
by PigleT on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 09:42:37 AM EST

I'm hoping it's the case that more people are wondering what makes an insult; there is the base word itself, and the context that makes it perjorative. There's something about the human psyche that says taking a person's attributes and highlighting them in a perjorative context is insulting.
OTOH if you know that this is what's happening, the response is "yeah, so what?". Call me a `male chauvinist Pig' and I'll say "2/3 ain't bad!".
Hence folks who get offended by swear-words are probably being less than rational.

Well the above was my first thought. I'm just thinking that the above applies if the word makes no sense - calling something that isn't a c*** a c*** can easily be laughed at; but that doesn't allow for `nigger' or various others, which are generally accepted to be perjorative versions of an attribute.

Anyone want to untangle my thoughts? ;)

~Tim -- We stood in the moonlight and the river flowed
[ Parent ]
'Foul' Language and the Modern Internet | 150 comments (140 topical, 10 editorial, 1 hidden)
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