Sunday, November 21, 2010

May cause offense!

I was told I had a potty mouth after my last blog (by a self proclaimed 'stuck up ageing relative'). It’s true – I do swear but I don’t like to offend so I usually save my most offensive language for close friends and family! I like swearing and don’t hold with the opinion that it is for people who are unable to articulate themselves adequately and suggests low intelligence. Well – I wouldn’t hold with that would I? I think swear words are incredibly expressive and do exactly what they need to do! Swearing is about context though. I swear all the time but in 18 years of teaching only one student heard me swear and that was because I didn’t know he was in the room. I had walked into a classroom and found a boy sitting at a desk – truanting and drinking coke. I sent him to his next lesson and bent down to pick up the can off the floor and went straight into the most offensive farty smell ever. I was nearly sick and couldn’t help but exclaim out loud ‘Oh for f**ks sake!’ I heard a titter and looked up and saw another student hiding behind a filing cabinet. I told him I would deny it if he ever told anyone!
Anyway – the Americans I have met don’t like swearing and I haven’t heard them swear – at all. (obviously I haven’t met any mofos from the ‘hood!) Even my most colourful friend doesn’t swear but they use the word ‘Freakin’ all the time. Now as this is a clear substitute for the real word I don’t think this is ok. I think it smacks of duplicity? Hypocrisy? Something anyway. They use the word crap all the time too, but I guess there is a lot of it here. They don’t mind children using the word ‘crap’ and don’t mind the word ‘fart’ at all. Hubby pointed out that as Fart is an onomatopoeic word we shouldn’t take offence! Whatever - Crap is swearing in my book and swearing is crap in theirs!
There are a few language nuances that may gain points on the swearometer and at the very least cause humour. Take ‘fanny’ for example (I’m sure some do …now I am just being crude, apologies). I can legitimately ask ‘Does my fanny look big in this?’ and no one laughs or takes offence. The first time someone referred to their fanny pack I nearly spurted my drink all over them. What would be kept in such a pack I wondered? Emergency sanitary products? Femfresh? Clippers? In case you are confused she was talking about her bum bag…
It works the other way too. A neighbour told me that when he was a student waiting tables he met some English lads. He went out for a drink with them after his shift. Much to the horror and amusement of the Brits he walked along shouting ‘Wanker’ to any passing American. They did not respond as they do not know what it means – although that may have changed with the popularity of Guy Richie Films. I don’t think I should try it. They don’t use the word ‘Tosser’ either. I wonder what the American equivalent is as there are certainly some about.
We recently watched ‘Scar face’ on TV and all the swearing had been dubbed. As a consequence there was virtually no dialogue. The film lost its meaning. It really is about context. No one wants to hear their Granny swear (although mine did all the time – like a caricature of the comedy sketch gran on Catherine Tate, my Nan was more extreme) but swearing does have its place and in the absence of it here I feel I have lost mine!


  1. Always be yourself, it is lovely to have a good cuss even if it may be in private! getting your tongue round some of the words is very satisfying. Mt favourite is B......s. What a tongue roller.Who was this relative who did'nt approve? there are some words i don't like and fanny is one of them. So my darling daughter swear away until your hearts content

  2. Just a thought, inwould like to point out that it was,nt my mom who swore ,she was a lady . so where did she go wrong with me!!

  3. she tells such porkies your daughter - it was me trying to see if i could get reaction from some american readers and I told her - honestly cant say a freaking thing without being misquoted

    forgot to add me is Tony

  4. I knew it was'nt a member of my family, we are all cut from the same cloth, thuough i must add some of the cuts can be rather sharp .