Mind Your Language


Warning: Ranting to follow

I want to say first up that I do swear on occasion although there are some words I won’t use. A salty word when you are angry and want to make a point, when you hurt yourself or when considering the latest stupidity of politicians is almost inevitable these days. My mum didn’t swear much. She considered “Bloody” and “Damn” were pretty bad words and used them sparingly. I never heard her use the “f” word or the “c” word at all.

When I was young you never heard that kind of language on television or on the radio, songs were banned for language a lot less offensive than that. Times have changed and some of these Anglo-Saxon words are more acceptable these days, after all you hear them in the real world all the time. When I worked for the railways there were only a handful of women in the depot and naturally there was a lot of swearing as you’d expect in a workplace where men were working with stubborn machinery. Nevertheless, in the break room if the language was getting too blue one of the men would nearly always say “Ladies present.” and there would be apologies to us. Actually it didn’t bother me that much because it was not directed at me and as one persistent swearer tried to explain. “I don’t mean it in a bad way. It’s part of me language.” he was a nice guy and I knew what he meant.

The trouble is that it seems to have become part of everyone’s language now and nobody cares any more. Some people can’t talk without swearing in every sentence. I have some young neighbours who spend a lot of their spare time fixing up cars. I expect there will be a bit of language from time to time but when I can’t sit in my own garden and enjoy peace and quiet without being disturbed by loud arguments punctuated by “effs” and “cees” I feel enough is enough. I feel very tempted to pop my head over the fence and say “If you can’t have a conversation without swearing at least do it quietly.” I don’t because I don’t like confrontation and from their point of view they are not doing anything wrong. They are on their own property after all. So instead when I’ve had enough I go back inside.

But there is no escape there either. I turn on the television and everyone is swearing like troopers there too. Recently I turned on to a show, I think it might have been “Deadwood”, something I had never seen before. The dialogue was full of swear words from the moment I turned it on. I don’t know if it is a good show or not. I could not watch it long enough to even find out what it was about. I had a similar experience another time. I saw advertisements for the British police series “Babylon” I thought that it might be worth a look having good memories of other British police dramas I’ve enjoyed. Big mistake. I watched one episode and never wanted to see another. Admittedly this time it was not just about language, I did not find one likeable character in the cast and if I can’t relate to any characters I soon stop watching. However there was a lot of bad language and I suppose it was meant to add realism but I didn’t like it. I am seriously thinking of giving up my pay TV subscription because there are so few new shows that I enjoy.

Radio has changed too, not only do they now play songs that would previously not have made the air but some DJ’s talk that way themselves. This is particularly so on the stations that play the more alternative music.

Now I probably sound like a grumpy old lady which is fair enough because that’s how I feel some of the time. My point is not that nobody should swear ever but that there is too much of it these days.  Does it have to be in situations that don’t require four letter words? If we must swear  could we please find milder alternatives and leave the X-rated stuff out of our every day conversations? Can we not make films and TV shows and write books where people try to behave like professionals if not well-mannered people?  It’s not  necessary. I don’t think Bogart, Cagney, John Wayne or any of the movie tough guys of the past needed to swear all the time to prove they were real men.

Apart from the fact that swearing is offensive to many people. It is a bad example to set for children who learn words without understanding what they mean or why they are not appropriate. Most swear words just sound ugly anyway. In a language as diverse as English there ought to be other words that express our feelings just as well.

After writing this post which is my personal opinion I decided to see whether anyone had written a list of TV shows that had the most swearing. Of course someone had, there are lists for everything on the internet. I also came across this article which reflects what I feel rather well. I swear I had not read it before writing this.

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/04/statistical-analysis-how-much-fing-swearing-there-tv

http://www.ew.com/article/2012/01/19/tv-cursing

Is 99 swear words too many in one hour-long TV show? Love Island fans think so

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_that_most_frequently_use_the_word_%22fuck%22

Jay & Trey Cartoon Swearing.jpg
By Threeboy from Richmond, Canada – Jay & Trey Cartoon Swearing, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48844951

Author: Taswegian1957

Born in England in 1957 my family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. David passed away in 2015 and I'm here on my own now but I have Cindy the dog and Polly the cat to keep me company. I currently co-write two Wordpress blogswith my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and a "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania.

9 thoughts on “Mind Your Language”

  1. I agree that there is way too much swearing everywhere these days. I use a lot of the bad words (never the “c” word) but mostly only when talking to myself and never out in public or with friends or family. I never thought about how my inner dialogue got so trashy but, now that you’ve got me thinking about it, it’s probably because of hearing such filthy words everywhere!

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  2. This is something I always wondered about… but I noticed this more with the american english. Watching US series in english, or YouTube channels, listening to modern music, reading through internet forums, social media and so on…. the F-word is present everywhere, and really almost in every single sentence, except if you watch educating stuff like documentaries or educative YouTube channels. But for entertainment and communication, the F-word is present almost everywhere. It’s just a week ago when I saw a Reddit post of a user who managed it to use the word at least 20 times in a 3 paragraph text submission. I can watch for information’s and discussions in german and english, but as soon as I notice someone using swear words, I don’t take the information or discussion serious and move on to Google in hope to find what I am looking for somewhere else.

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      1. Yes, the German language is changing too. I think there are two separate things that I dislike a lot….

        1. As much as I like English, and as much as I like to use the English language (as you know)… I dislike the recent trend that more and more English words are used instead of the German words. This trend is driven by several engines, the media like television, radio and the advertising industry. Walking past a bus stop for example and seing advertisement of a drink, there is often no German slogan, but they use the English words like “Fresh”, “Drink” and so on. It’s not a full English sentence, but there are several English words used in the sentence. Further, they do even invent new pseudo-english words (laugh). It’s meant to be cool and hipster, but I find it just sad. You either speak with someone in English or German, but mixing up both is just uncool, and inventing new words for another language is even worse. Television drives this too, because moderators and shows try to be hipster. To me, it just ruins the German language, because the youth sometimes doesn’t even know the German equivalent words anymore. Those who dislike it call the new language “Denglish”. People do even invent pseudo-english words: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denglisch If products are invented outside of Germany, I don’t mind if they have an English name. I don’t even mind that a smartphone is just smartphone called in Germany. Sometimes there are no German names for things, but I pretty much dislike it if there are German terms for things but people prefer to use either English vocabulary for it, or as said even pseudo-englisch terms that you as a native English speaker wouldn’t understand. It’s ok to use some English words, but if it’s happening excessively, no thanks. So, I am pretty much against Denglish but I do also like excessive anglicism.

        2. Here is something very different to the first point. I guess all countries know it. It’s not so much about media or advertisement, but about the “gangsta” scene and young people who believe they would be “gangstas”. It’s horrible when you go outside and you meet a group of young people on your way who speak this embarrassing “gangsta” language. I know how it sounds in English, but our German variant is even more embarrassing. I could come up with several examples, but it would be hard to translate and explain, because it doesn’t even make sense in German, and if it would be translated, the sense of this type of language would be totally lost. The German wannabe-gangsta language sounds just awful, and not only this, it is usually also a sign that the person is quite a bit dim. This can be proven every single time you have a conversation with a wannabe. Not only is it cringe-worthy to listen to them, it’ll also be hard to find substance in the discussion and you want to end it after just one minute. Fortunately you don’t always have to talk with them, but there are some cases where you have to do so (jobs).

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      2. This hijacking of other languages seems to be worldwide. I think the French have the same problem and even the Chinese. I was watching a youTube video the other day, someone’s home video of a cruise ship. The narration was in Chinese which of course I don’t understand but every now and then there would be an English word. I imagine that if I were a native German speaker I’d be very annoyed by this trend as well. It is changing the language and while all languages evolve as far as words and expressions go this seems to be changing the grammar as well.

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      3. That’s true, it’s not only a German problem. I have some international friends, not only due to the blogging, but also because of PC gaming. We had this topic a few times during voice chat and gaming sessions, and I was surprised that it’s not just about the German language. In a lot of cases it really makes sense to use some English words ,but it becomes an excessive phenomenon, to the point that my grandma told me several times that she didn’t understand things in a store, while watching TV or while reading the newspaper. 😀

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