On swearing

Examples of social decline, especially in the UK

Re: On swearing

Postby Heather » 18 Jun 2012, 18:01

Elliott, I think that if you want to stay with the intimate, getting in his head approach, you could take out the swearing except for the biggest, most emotional moments. It would build in a lot of contrast.

If you changed to a detached approach, you could have classier people rarely swearing and vulgar people constantly swearing, to illustrate a class divide. I've seen many books use dialog to show class differences.

I wouldn't get rid of swearing altogether. Use it to your advantage, either to highlight an exceptional moment, or to highlight class distinctions.
Heather
 
Posts: 132
Joined: 28 Apr 2012, 23:05
Location: The American South

Re: On swearing

Postby Andrea » 18 Jun 2012, 21:00

Hi Elliott,

I've thought about your situation a bit over the past few days. I am writing a book as well, and I have only used several instances of swearing (albeit words that used to be swearing, i.e. damn) to show how low a character is in terms of morality. Even one scene has a young man reprimanded for swearing in the King's presence.

I feel strongly that the more swearing is used and accepted in art, the more people will be inclined to use it without the slightest bit of shame in front of strangers, children, the elderly etc. What is it that people often say now, "Be the change you want to see in the world" (is that it?) - In my daily life, I refuse to use swearing on principle, and I think that this clearly shows in my work.

Are you using the swear words to add a "raw" feel to it, or do you genuinely feel they are necessary to your writing? Could you perhaps show a character's mindset with imagery and sufficient description to show their innermost feelings instead of using swear words? There are people, such as myself, who will put down a book if it has too much swearing in it. I couldn't keep reading "Game of Thrones" because of its casual use of expletives. I absolutely hate that. I also hate the bullying terms of "Puritanical" and "Prudish" which inevitably get thrown at me for having a problem with this- which is a load of potatoes because not swearing is classy.

I agree with Rachel in that ultimately it's up to you. Let us know how it goes! All the best to you :)
Andrea
 
Posts: 158
Joined: 30 Jul 2011, 21:55
Location: England

Re: On swearing

Postby Caleb » 19 Jun 2012, 02:46

What is it specifically about swearing that makes it repulsive? The reason I ask is that what might have been used as insults in the past often sound completely comical now, yet people used to draw swords or pistols over them. Clearly, in some sense, the actual word itself is not the issue, but the meaning behind it is the issue. There's also the case of when people use what might be considered surrogate swear words (or surrogate blasphemy). If someone says "oh fudge!" or "dang it!" or "oh my gosh!" or even things like "jeepers creepers" it always sounds completely ridiculous to me because they carry exactly the same intent, only with one syllable changed (or sometimes, replaced by complete nonsense). As if that one syllable changes the whole nature of the utterance. Does it?

The other thing is that usually in English, there's what might be considered the "vulgar" term and the "polite" term. The word vulgar comes from Latin and means "of the common people". So, it is unsurprising that often, the swear words in English come from Anglo-Saxon origins, whereas the polite terms come from Latin (either directly or via French).

Is it simply that the kinds of people who use the Franco-Latin terms are themselves less offensive?
Caleb
 
Posts: 865
Joined: 20 Oct 2011, 04:44

Re: On swearing

Postby Elliott » 19 Jun 2012, 05:57

Caleb wrote:There's also the case of when people use what might be considered surrogate swear words (or surrogate blasphemy). If someone says "oh fudge!" or "dang it!" or "oh my gosh!" or even things like "jeepers creepers" it always sounds completely ridiculous to me because they carry exactly the same intent, only with one syllable changed (or sometimes, replaced by complete nonsense). As if that one syllable changes the whole nature of the utterance. Does it?


I agree, it is funny when people say "what the buck is he doing?" or "I'm not chuffing doing that".

I think it comes back to what I said in another thread about observing rules for the sake of it. We know that the man who says "bucking" really means "f***ing", but he is paying a kind of tribute to civilisation by not actually saying it. The end result is the same but the process used to arrive at it is civilised rather than brutish.

On the whole I'm in favour of it, though I admit that it is slightly absurd because, as you say, the nature of the utterance is unchanged.
Elliott
 
Posts: 1800
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 22:32
Location: Edinburgh

Re: On swearing

Postby Elliott » 23 Jul 2012, 15:38

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.


As usual he writes from a comfortable upper-middle-class perspective, and like all liberals he assumes that civilisation can take any amount of battering and remain intact. Like all liberals he assumes that everyone is as articulate and educated as he is; but, paradoxically, he also assumes (like all liberals) that his intelligence and education give him some special insight that others - namely conservatives - lack.

And like all Stephen Fry "quotations", he reacts emotionally to the subject then comes out with an intellectual justification for his reaction. He is totally superficial. There is no analysis. I think it is so obvious that he is, indeed, a stupid person's idea of an intellectual. There is so much superficial garbage in that quotation that I don't know where to start!

It is perhaps true that intelligent, articulate people (of the type he mixes with) swear a lot. But this is only a symptom of what these people consider to be open-minded, right-on behaviour. "I swear therefore I am not a prude".

"the kind of person who says swearing is a sign of a poor vocabulary usually have a pretty poor vocabulary themselves" - that is a sneering look at those people who lack his education, his refinement, and who seek to emulate it by being good, decent - probably a concept Mr Fry would find old-fashioned and "prissy".

The bit where he says it is preposterous to be shocked on behalf of other people... what if he heard someone being racist? Or somebody scolding welfare junkies? I suspect that Mr Fry would be very shocked indeed.

As to the swearing itself, it's true that, with increased exposure, one ceases being shocked by it. But I am beginning to see it now as part of a "civilisational contract": by not swearing, and by taking offence when someone does swear gratuitously, one signals that one is on the side of civilisation. The other person is, conversely, signalling that they are on the side of the base, the raw, the primitive.

Swearing may not be a crime, and it may not have victims, but it is a statement of where one's loyalties lie.
Elliott
 
Posts: 1800
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 22:32
Location: Edinburgh

Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 23 Jul 2012, 20:45

An excellent analysis of Fry's immaturity and vulgarity, Elliott. He is, apparently, a very shallow man. A self-obsessed and vain man, to boot.

Also a great analysis of swearing - I agree with you. Just listen to TD - he doesn't swear (except perhaps when no-one will hear him). I think it is not always the actual word that is offensive when it comes to swearing, but rather the message of the speaker, this being "I do not care about you or what you may think and I am going to demonstrate that by using any language I like around you". Fry (like a 13 year old) clearly even thinks he is clever to swear, and that in itself is just annoying.

By extreme contrast to Fry and by coincidence, I was sorting through my old bookmarks earlier and watched this: Dalrymple speaking in New York in 2001. It is a brilliant speech and at around two minutes through he explains how it feels to his elderly patients to be addressed with swear words in modern Britain.

When I have the time to watch all of those videos (again) I'll post them in the Media section of this site.
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3430
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 20 Sep 2013, 23:32

Here's how a young trendy person tackles the issue of cancer:


Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 00.30.35.png


With regard to the profanity, "Why do you have to be PC?", she asks, thus demonstrating that she does not understand what PC actually is. I dare say this young lady is actually very PC in her views. Swearing publicly and gratuitously is just a bit tasteless and devalues the word. I'm sure cancer is bad, very bad, but any cursing is probably best done in private.
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3430
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: On swearing

Postby Grant » 21 Sep 2013, 08:01

I think one of the many strengths of this site is its insistence on a standard that doesn't tolerate foul language. The term 'vulgar' has been used by many to accurately describe foul language, a sign of a low or lazy intellect and deficient vocabulary. I rank it with tattooing, graffiti, spitting and public drunkeness. Listening to so-called comedians who substitute a flood of obscenities for genuine wit is a tiresome experience and only encourages simple minds to mimic. I heartily agree with Gavin about "Sorry, I Haven't a Clue". Pure brilliance without resorting to the tedium of bad language.

The sooner people understand self-restraint equals self-respect and control the better our communities will be.
Grant
 
Posts: 121
Joined: 01 Apr 2013, 09:14

Re: On swearing

Postby Yessica » 21 Sep 2013, 08:09

I just wondered if you think if there is a situation when the use of foul language is okay for a gentle man... for example in the army or at the soccer field (not that I equate the two) to gain the respect of his comrades.
Yessica
 
Posts: 426
Joined: 22 Mar 2013, 17:11

Re: On swearing

Postby Grant » 21 Sep 2013, 09:20

Yessica, not immediately. I refer to my comments about a loss of control. With the prevalence of foul language I think a man or woman gains respect and admiration if they are able to demonstrate restraint under even the most trying of circumstances. We can all decide whether we want to run with the herd or stand apart and aim higher. Each day we are tested in minor and major ways. The way we react or respond defines us. An ejaculation of boorish expressions is not how I wish to be defined.
Grant
 
Posts: 121
Joined: 01 Apr 2013, 09:14

Re: On swearing

Postby Keith » 21 Sep 2013, 14:14

Swearing seems to go hand in hand with a swagger that many English people have adopted more and more. They swing down the street as if they owned it. They move around public places like they were in their own living room.

It is difficult to push against certain social trends and to do so requires that you possess a backbone. You need the self-confidence to not be cowed into either adopting the same language and swagger, or meekly laughing along with the others when someone comes over all Billy Connolly.

Perhaps because I used to play a lot of football I also got into the habit of swearing a lot. Since I already had a bit of a middle class accent I felt not swearing only alienate me more from the other players and mark me out as a snob. Tough is how many British men want to appear, and weirdly, even lots of the women nowadays. Swearing is simply what would-be tough people do. I sometimes wonder if these people are actually quite frightened and resort to swearing in the same way that dogs raise their hackles to look more ferocious.

The only people I knew in my footballing days who didn't swagger and swear were old fashioned people like my mum and dad and I didn't want to take them as my role model. It was only when I went to Spain and saw that acting like a Neanderthal was frowned upon by Spanish people I liked that I realised just how unattractive such behaviour must be to anyone of any culture. For my Spanish friends this was Anglo-Saxon behaviour.

All this really came to me when I went to live in Japan. The young people were so gentle. They didn't act like gangster rappers and the boys didn't swagger. Whether they were swearing or not a couldn't tell, but from the look of their good-natured conversations my guess is that they weren't.

Both boys and girls shared a liking for the purity and innocence of children and animals, and people who tended to be innocent and gullible were loved rather than ridiculed. Their lack of guile highlighted the ugliness of the cynicism of many British youths.

Although I have spent half of the last 10 years teaching in Japan and have picked up some Japanese words, I have never learned a swear word, though I suppose they must exist. Yet the fact that I don't know any is perhaps a reflection of their lack of prominence in Japanese society. I think swearing would often be seen as 'ugly' in most social situations and to be met with silent embarrassment when someone makes the blunder of believing it might be cool to do so.
Keith
 
Posts: 48
Joined: 21 Sep 2013, 12:23

Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 21 Sep 2013, 15:24

Yessica wrote:I just wondered if you think if there is a situation when the use of foul language is okay for a gentle man... for example in the army or at the soccer field (not that I equate the two) to gain the respect of his comrades.


Given that personally I think football is taken far too seriously by everyone and I have no interest in it, I think swearing on the field, or pitch, is vulgar and unnecessary, though it is heroic to stand up against the downward-aspiring peer pressure that is normal in the UK.

Battle situations: I think these are some of the only situations where swearing is understandable, actually. Really horrific or disastrous situations. I'm not about to tell a soldier under fire that he shouldn't swear.

The casual swearing one hears everywhere now is probably indicative of how pampered everybody is. There are no extreme situations any more. Everything is provided (even for foreigners - though the country is being bankrupted). So the bored sheep alleviate the tedium by making their own dramas, and swearing. A war would probably solve a lot of this, and it might well happen. Order would eventually be reasserted, and the costs and consequences of depravity understood.

Keith - I noticed the same qualities in Japanese society and almost ended up a teacher there too. They seemed to take over on politeness where we left off. However, I believe that, even though their society is generally low crime and cohesive due to them being intelligent and rejecting multiculturalism, they do have problems. They have a slight hangover of barbarism, and feminism has infected their culture so that they are not reproducing at a high enough rate.
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3430
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: On swearing

Postby Keith » 21 Sep 2013, 16:32

Gavin,
Although the Japanese are not having enough children, I think the way this was projected in the article as them reaching zero children in 1,000 years is silly. I think it is like computers and mobile phones. Just because they have been getting smaller and smaller doesn't mean that they will one day disappear! I think in 1,000 years other factors for the Japanese will have kicked in. As long as they are not overrun by another race, I'm sure they will be okay. In fact like Britain, the optimal size of Japan could well be far smaller than it is at present. I would like to see Britain's population reduced to about 30 million. Why we need to make it even more crowded by adding immigrants is beyond me. Or rather, I am familiar with the argument but disagree with it.
Keith
 
Posts: 48
Joined: 21 Sep 2013, 12:23

Re: On swearing

Postby Gavin » 21 Sep 2013, 16:49

Yes, that was just an article I quickly found relating to my point - I'm not sure I even read it all.

We'll have to see how they do. As you said, they have at least decided it would not be a good idea to invite in millions of Muslims and third world people. Indeed they have hardly invited in anyone, and they do not seem to have suffered on that count. It's probably not a healthy culture when the indigenous men and women are not getting together, though (or are principally doing so in a fleeting and irresponsible manner).

Obviously the mass immigration of unskilled people into the UK has benefitted only those people, and not the indigenous British who have financed this against their will. We are in agreement that the top priority is to halt and reverse that. Then those who engineered it might be brought to account.
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3430
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: On swearing

Postby Yessica » 26 Sep 2013, 05:53

I have great adoration for the Japanese people for the way the dealt with Fukushima.

I remember when I watched the documention about it's aftermath on TV there was a man in his twenties, who has "lost" his wife and child... by lost I really mean lost. He did not know their whereabouts. He went to several reception camps and did not find them and each time he was told they were not there he made a bow and thanked the workers in the reception camp for their work. I doubt I would have that stoicism.

Gavin, you always seem to be spoiling for a world war ;)...
On the one hand it might put an end to artifical dramas of the "Oh no, I cannot afford my favourite brand of sneakers. How am I going to survive this?" kind. Veterans seem to be quite immune to that.
On the other hand... don't you think a third world war might be a little bit worse than artifical drama? I'd choose to listen to people's complaints about their latte macchiato not being the way the want over being bombed any day.

The worst artifical drama I heard about was by the way mentioned in the Zeit, a mainstream-left newspaper from Western Germany (this has to be mentioned here). There was a story on child poverty. One of the protagonists was a primary school girl whose mother bought some of her clothing in a second hand shop. That was supposed to be the hardship.

In Eastern Germany upper middle class children wear used clothing. I sometimes think the time our parents spend doing without coffee or bananas made them / us more resonable.

One tendency I noticed in some Western Germans is that they are thankful for nothing. They always complain that whatever they have still is not big enough, good enough, the world owes them yaddah, yaddah. Some underclass people are worst at this.
Yessica
 
Posts: 426
Joined: 22 Mar 2013, 17:11

PreviousNext

Return to Social Decay

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron

User Menu

Login Form

This site costs £100 per year to run and makes no money.

If you would like to make a small contribution to help pay for the web hosting, you can do so here.

Who is online

In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 175 on 12 Jan 2015, 18:23

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest
Copyright © Western Defence. All Rights Reserved.