On swearing

Examples of social decline, especially in the UK

Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 26 Sep 2013, 19:30

Not really spoiling for a world war but wondering if one is coming. Actually it is irritating me slightly that we can't predict more accurately exactly what is going to happen on various counts. Somehow I think we should be able to. We have a wealth of history go by and our a priori reasoning to use. I would like to write a much more involved article on this at some point in the future, specifically with regard to:

  • the probable economic collapse of the welfare state given the ever-growing, ever-funded, unemployable underclass (including possible "Atlas Shrugs" moment as taxation increases)
  • the alienation of the British people in their own country via massive immigration from Eastern Europeans who set up their own communities and send any income back home (due to increase soon in the form of enormous numbers of unskilled Bulgarians and Romanians coming to the UK)
  • The problem of third world immigration and, of course, Islam

On swearing, the subject of this particular thread, I was just at the bar in the place where I buy a pint. As usual there were some (indigenous) louts at the bar and using the F word loudly and casually while I waited to order. The staff did nothing, as it is company policy even in large chains not to make any judgement on such a matter. What intrigued me is that when the thugs were blocking the credit card machine they were quite apologetic: "Oh, sorry mate" etc. This was instructive on just how normal it is consider by many people these days (most, it seems) to use foul language wherever they like. I believe they would have been surprised, shocked, offended, and possibly amused, had anybody been so insolent as to object.
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Re: On swearing

Postby Lindsey » 27 Sep 2013, 18:17

I worked in a bar once where people swearing would be asked to leave. sadly its since been 'modernized'.
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Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 07 Dec 2013, 11:43

At the place where I am working at the moment, Lindsey, a 3D designer (private school educated, I am told) arrives in his casual sportswear and slouches down to use the program (not a simple application to learn, it must be granted). He frequently blurts out "For f**k's sake!", "F**king hell! and "What the f**k...". None of the other people in the room bat an eyelid.

I am sure it is the same in newspaper offices and other workplaces across the land, also in the seat of government, but I do not believe it was so in the past. Indeed, when one reads history books, the insults usually encountered, from the 1940s, recorded verbatim in diaries, are things like "blockhead" and "buffoon". (Of course people would swear - obviously - but not as idly, with such pride and over such trivial matters as they do today. If they can offend with their vulgarity they are all the happier.)

Back to the individual I earlier mentioned, were I to object, this would be met with incredulity. It would be seen as both rude and amusing - but I might lose my job, as it is not my place to object if the managers deem such behaviour acceptable. So, I will of course move on when possible, but - you guessed it - the probability is that the next place will be the same. The company in question is smart and modern and turning over millions. I have noticed that the conversation between adult male staff these days in many companies, by the way, is almost exclusively about football and video games. I am not around as many women, because they are rarely suited to technical jobs, but I don't imagine the conversation between the countless PR and HR women is of any greater depth, in fact it is probably shallower.

It is no doubt for the best that workplace banter, when strangers are forced together for the purpose of work, is kept shallow, but I couldn't feign an interest in the football and I have now grown out of video games. This presents a dilemma for the person who wants to get along with others in the workplace but has little in common with them. One can also be, of course, be perceived as a snob or as being judgmental (the greatest crime) for showing signs of intelligence and cultural aspiration. This, going back to what TD has said, is why so many MPs claim to love football. I won't claim that. If I can tolerate their love of it, they should be able to tolerate my complete lack of interest in it.
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Re: On swearing

Postby Kevin R » 07 Dec 2013, 16:48

Elliott wrote:Here is Stephen Fry on swearing:

Swearing is a really important part of one's life. It would be impossible to imagine going through life without swearing and without enjoying swearing... There used to be mad, silly, prissy people who used to say swearing was a sign of a poor vocabulary- such utter nonsense. The people I know who swear the most tend to have the widest vocabularies and the kind of person who says swearing is a sign of a poor vocabulary usually have a pretty poor vocabulary themselves... The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest or -is just a lunatic... I haven't met anybody who's truly shocked at swearing, really, they're only shocked on behalf of other people. Well, you know, that's preposterous... or they say 'it's not necessary'. As if that should stop one doing it! It's not necessary to have coloured socks, it's not necessary for this cushion to be here, but is anyone going to write in and say 'I was shocked to see that cushion there, it really wasn't necessary'? No, things not being necessary is what makes life interesting; the little extras in life.




It is not that oaths must not exist in the modern world, but that they are so flat and uninteresting because they are so dull and unimaginative. They are used to excess because nothing else can be thought up to replace them - more pithy accounts of circumstance or dexterity of metaphor. This is why they are a reflection of our societal thinking, and are used to overwhelming excess and incongruity. There are only a few rudimentary tools in the box, not a workshop built for superb craftsmen.

If the people who swear the most often have the widest vocabularies, then let them use their articulation to the most entertaining account, 'suit the action to the words, the words to the action' (as it were). Modern oaths are as crabbed and bitter as the pretended gall that feeds on them.

Mistress Quickly : 'By my troth Sir john, these are bitter words..'

Sir John : ' Feed, and be fat therefore..'

http://www.museangel.net/insult.html

http://insult.dream40.org/

http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/index.html
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Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 07 Dec 2013, 18:28

Indeed. A gang of - white, I will add - thugs just congregated in the lounge of the hotel where I am. I had just sat down before they loafed over with their drinks and sat nearby. Had I seen them before I sat down, of course I would have forfeited the comfort of the sofas and sat at the tables on the other side of the room.

All thugs look, well, thuggish, oafish, but some bear nasty malevolent expressions too, which seem to be fixed upon their faces as genetic gifts. As Dalrymple has said, they manage to appear both lupine and bovine at the same time. Needless to say, it wasn't long until these individuals started littering their sentences with F words. So casually. They added nothing to the sentences. Had I objected, they may well have waited for me as I exited the lounge. This is how the new tyranny of vulgarity works.

It's all very well for Stephen Fry with his well enunciated witticisms, even Withnail was funny (for an adolescent) with his eloquent swearing. But most swearing is not like that, and even eloquent swearing should be reserved only for people whom you know want to hear it. Most swearing is blunt, crude, thick, unexpressive, vulgar, menacing, unnecessary, uncivilised and inconsiderate. I think it offends me because it signifies a lack of respect for oneself, for the potential of English language and for others in the vicinity.
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Re: On swearing

Postby Kevin R » 07 Dec 2013, 20:28

I know what you mean Gavin. The burly Michelin-man thug, the feral lout, the surly, ennui sodden hoodies, the brawling and boisterously barbarous swingeing drunks of an evening.. the taint of their miasma is seemingly everywhere in Britain's cities these days. Every time I leave the house I brace myself for the inevitable encounter with their presence. Many of them walk by my small front garden throughout the day and night (as we live on a street used as a 'cut-through' to a nearby local estate where many of them live) Trouble has inevitably ensued from this; vandalism, littering, anti-social behaviour etc.. One night I was the recipient of a large rock thrown through my front window at 1am in the morning, but I digress.. Swearing, spitting and the like are adopted as badges-of-honour, and many of their faces seem to belie an inner state of perpetually rancorous defiance and waspish fury, their gate and physical disposition telegraphing a warning to any who dare invade such a state of personal resentment and embattlement. It seems that swearing is as much mother's milk to them as is the warring environment in which they segueway into adulthood, and is a part of underclass patois which soaks upwards, capillary-like, into the other reaches of society.

A while ago, a friend of mine posted a picture on to his Facebook profile. It showed a man dressed in a vaguely 1930s gangster-style suit whilst rising from a chair towards the viewer in a subtly threatening manner. Underneath were the words 'Research has shown that people who swear a lot more are much more trustworthy'.. Apart from the absurdity of the claim (that must mean that either the jails are breeding-grounds for Mr Fry's 'prissiness', or most prison incumbents have been the victims of scandalous injustice), what struck me was that he chose to post it because he probably thought it might buy him kudos amongst those who unthinkingly read it. Almost as if it was expected that if you don't swear you are one of the enemy (ie - the toffs). They say that 'stigma is one of the most powerful forces in human society', but would it be any more true a statement if I slotted the 'F' word anywhere into the assertion? Or, if I wished to appear 'edgy', between every word?

If common swearing is no longer deemed shocking by those who use it excessively, then how does one then judge it's significance in speech? What seismic force does it have in aiding the listener to gauge the extent of emotion being expressed by it's user?
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Re: On swearing

Postby Mike » 07 Dec 2013, 22:47

Research has shown that people who swear a lot more are much more trustworthy


Well, if that's a genuine quote (it may not be), you couldn't get a better example of the unholy marriage between scientism and cultural masochism, could you?

"Research has shown that most academics see themselves purely as iconoclasts these days, and consider it their role to seek out and destroy any remaining conventions that help to keep us civilised."

I mean, who would dream of making such a thing a topic for research unless their express purpose was to reach such a conclusion?
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Re: On swearing

Postby Kevin R » 02 Mar 2014, 00:07

Mike wrote:
Research has shown that people who swear a lot more are much more trustworthy


Well, if that's a genuine quote (it may not be), you couldn't get a better example of the unholy marriage between scientism and cultural masochism, could you?

"Research has shown that most academics see themselves purely as iconoclasts these days, and consider it their role to seek out and destroy any remaining conventions that help to keep us civilised."

I mean, who would dream of making such a thing a topic for research unless their express purpose was to reach such a conclusion?


Exactly Mike..

It's a progressive world, and now we can even make carts pull horses!
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Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 20 Mar 2014, 08:42

At my current workplace, a large media agency, swearing is again rife. People of any level just drop F words in whenever they like, in front of anyone. It made me wonder how soon they start do this when beginning a new job. I suppose as soon as they notice other people doing it, the conclude it is fine.
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Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 11 Apr 2014, 18:43

I can answer my last question! A new person has started at the workplace. He works next to me. It's an agency/office environment - quite smart and well equipped. He was friendly enough, chatting away, but then he thought nothing of dropping "f**king" into his sentences, just casually, on his first day.

That was on his first day. I don't think he had heard anyone else saying "c**t" or "f**k" yet. Some do. There are women present. I have not heard them saying those words yet, but like me they probably feel unable to object.

I hinted heavily that I didn't approve, that I thought that language was unpleasant and unwarranted. This went completely unnoticed, so I hinted more heavily, almost directly, when future expletives were issues for no good reason. Again, nothing. This person obviously has no idea he is doing anything inappropriate. For him, it's just completely normal and acceptable. That's what you do: you say "f**k" in front of strangers for no good reason on the first day of your new job.

And he's right. Nothing will happen. He won't be disciplined for it. If I were to object that would be seen as laughable. If I were to tell him straight "Can you stop saying the F word all the time please?" then he would regard me "up myself" and he would be very offended at my attempt to restrict his personal liberty.

The managers at this multi-million pound company would see me as a problem too. If people just rub along, that's fine. If people start dictating how others should behave - even worse, insisting on some kind of decency - well that's awkward. That person represents a problem, and I have indeed been sacked for this before.

As it happens I am quite senior and unusually skilled in my team. (This is not to say I am unusually skilled generally, just that the team is not as skilled as it might be.) I probably therefore have a bit of influence, so if the swearing continues I might just confront the guy as I have outlined above. But then they man opposite will also be offended as he likes to swear too, and I cannot depend on any support from other people either. The women might well not mind the men saying "f**k" and "f**king" in front of them in the office environment.

Because my skills are in demand, I could leave. When I do that, should I indicate that a culture which permits vulgarity is one of my reasons, or should I say nothing? That's my only question now. Why help a company that allows this? Better to leave them no clue, then whatever decent people they employ will always seek to leave. The only trouble is, in Britain the next place is highly likely to be the same.

As I have said before, vulgarity is both permitted and often admired in the UK, at all levels, whereas telling the truth (being politically incorrect) is considered to be beyond the pale. That is the corruption of our time.
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