1. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another swearing thread (warning, strong language.)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CDRW, Dec 23, 2008.

    We all know the reasons why some say strong language has a place in writing while others say it should be left out unless absolutely nessecary. In order to further the argument and present the forum with a tiny addition to it's reason for existance, I humbly present this parable. After this I will pretend that I have never written anything of this sort. If you ask me, I will deny it. :cool:


    “Now Professor…you are going to die! What do you have to say to that?”

    “****.”

    “What?”

    “I said ****. It is a very strong and offensive swear word meaning approximately ‘to have violent, meaningless sex.’ It is often spoken as an insult or a word indicating strong emphasis and/or emotion in phrases like ‘That was ****ing awesome,’ or ‘you’re ****ing messed up.’ Generally these usages are incorrect, and when used excessively, lose their shock value and, therefore, their usefulness as a word for emphasis.

    A more grammatically correct use would be the phrase ‘**** a duck,’ or in other words ‘to have violent, meaningless sex with a duck.’”

    “What?”

    “Now, when I said ‘****,’ you may have gotten the mistaken impression that I was telling you to go have violent, meaningless sex, but in fact I was not. I can forgive you for thinking something like that as I was not very clear in my use of the word. I had to be brief in my comments as I was under the impression that I would not have much time to speak my last words.

    In fact, when I said ‘****,’ I was really lamenting the fact that I have never been in the situation inherent in ‘****’ before my death. It is really rather a sad affair.”

    “What?”

    “But anyhow, now that I have expressed my grief to you I can move onto the next stage of my reaction to your original question, anger.”

    “What?”

    “Go to hell you mother****er.”
     
  2. Toritoes
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    Toritoes Member

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    Hahaha, hilarious! :D
     
  3. Toritoes
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    Toritoes Member

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    How the hell do you use the multi quote thing?!? Lol..
     
  4. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with the Professor, and definitely lol'ed at his final verdict on the other character. :D

    Some people say its vulgar. To them I say, "look around; it's a vulgar world. When the time comes to describe the less pleasant aspects of this world, I'm glad to know we have the right words for the job."

    Some people say it's a sin. To them I say, "how is a word a sin? Unless I'm using it to specifically insult someone, there is nothing sinful about it." I've been a Christian since I was seven years old and I stand behind this 100%.

    Some people say children shouldn't hear these things. To them I say, "hey, you've go a point there. These words are intended to express strong emotions." Kids just aren't ready for it yet; they're bound to misuse and abuse them.

    I've always been an advocate for using the right words at the right time. I believe there is a time and a place for profanity. That is all.
     
  5. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    ****, that was good! LOL
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As far as I can tell, it's a vBulletin feature thyat is not actually enabled on the site, butthe buttons haven't been removed from the page template either.
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just looked up the Hemingway quote for you; you remember it, right?

    Try and write straight English; never using slang except in dialogue and then only when unavoidable. Because all slang goes sour in a short time. I only use swear words, for example, that have lasted at least a thousand years . . . .

    Seems good advice to me.
     
  8. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    Which is good advice, providing you don't take it too far and leave your characters sounding like politically correct robots. I agree that slang is easily outdated, and if you're trying to write the next Great American (or whatever country) Novel, then that should be the format. But if you are writing, say, about the average rap musician being abducted by aliens and forced to give belly dances while wearing an Easter Bunny outfit, he may be a bit more vocal than "****".

    Then again, what do I know? Hemingway's apparently just awesome ((Never got into some of his books, myself)), and I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

    I'm also relatively sure that he doesn't write about the average rap musician being abducted by aliens and forced to give belly dances while wearing an Easter Bunny outfit.
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is an option on each post to include it in the multi-quote I believe.
     
  10. cwpcreator
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    cwpcreator Member

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    I only do use swearing in dialogue or thoughts.
     
  11. othman
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    othman Member

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    Haha, that was really funny, well done prof!
     
  12. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    I was going to start a thread about this.

    My mom seems to think it's stupid or wrong to use profanity in my writing. I use profanity a lot in dialogue and even somewhat in the narration. To me, that is realistic. I don't know if it's a generational thing or what, but I grew up in the nineties, and people in my age group curse. A lot. I wouldn't find it at all believable to read a book about a group of early twenty somethings that never cursed, unless the book was about Bible camp or something (it's not, its about a bunch of traveling, pot smoking hippie types)

    As for the idea that slang dates the book to a certain degree, I do think that is true. But it's not a bad thing. A LOT of things date my book, from pop culture and product references to a general feeling of the times. It doesn't mean in 50 years my book will become unreadable, just as books written in the 50s aren't unreadable now, it's just obvious that the book was written in a certain time period.
     
  13. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hey cool, it's my old thread again. Funny enough, I have something new to add to the fire. It turns out that swearing might not date something as much as we all think. I've been reading "The Writer's Guide to Life in the 19th Century" and it has an entire section on swear words. It turns out that most of the swear words we use today are actually pretty old and were in common use during the 1800's. There was the B-word of course, but the meaning has changed a little, the F-word, the seldom used but even more shocking C-word, and several lesser used but still heard ones that I won't list out because I'm not sure if I'm allowed to or not. I've got to say, that they had a very impressive number of curses back then. I guess the general decline in vocabulary has affected even that area.
     
  14. A.J.Crowley
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    A.J.Crowley Senior Member

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    That’s true but it seems odd thinking that people in medieval times would say things like “**** this”. I suppose because most of the surviving literature (Shakespeare) from that era doesn't have swearing we assume people didn't swear, period.
     
  15. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    In The Other Boleyn Girl, they us the C word (well, something close to it and essentially meaning the same thing) but not as an insult or really rude, just a crude way of refering to that part of the body. Although it's a recent book, it's set hundreds of years ago.
     
  16. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Shakespeare may not have dropped the C-bomb, but he was a very vulgar, failthy-minded writer at times :p true, a lot of audiences today miss it all (i suspect because we're too wrapped up in stodgy academic study of his texts) but his comedies would've been riotous to his original audiences; the lewd innuendo, the blatant sexual overtones....good times, good times....


    Although I guess you could construe that as an argument for not using swear words and the like....people in a few centuries might not know what you mean...
     
  17. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    My tenth grade english teacher was the best english teacher ever. He explained all the dirty jokes. It turns out Shakespear's pretty darn fun when you actually understand it.
     
  18. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I had teachers who helped us find all the dirty jokes in it too. I wish I'd had the courage to bring that up in class when some dummy said, "It's boring but you might get something out of it." We let young children watch shakespeare, but truely faithful film adaptations often at least PG-13 or 14A.

    (The class was in college, we were talking about how difficult it is to get kids into Shakespeare. Bet none of them had fun with it when they were kids.)
     
  19. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    What's another c word close to c**t? I'm just curious lol

    I agree that the curse words themselves may not date the book as much as other slang. I think it would be impossible though, to try and and create a book guaranteed to be understood 300 years in the future. I mean, who knows what about society could change by then. I'll be happy just to see anyone enjoy my book while I'm alive lol. ;)
     
  20. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    In that book, the first three letters were the same, but instead of a T, it ended in "ny", so it rhymed with "funny."
     
  21. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    There are many words deemed lewd in society in the English language. However, of English speaking nations, there are some variances. There are also similarly thought of lewd words in other societies, that we English people have no problem saying. It all depends on our culture.

    The one thing that does seem to run though most cultures is what we connect these lewd words with. Most are body parts, usually parts of our sexual reproductive system. Many are body functions or physical sexual acts, some are derogetory terms lifted from the animal word, like ass and bitch (when referring to a donkey or a female dog) they are not lewd, but technical terms. When applied in a negative form to a human, it is lewd.

    When should we use lewd slang when we write? When it fits, just like any other word being used. Calling people names, no matter how clean or lewd, is calling people names. Using a lewd word to convey a strong emotion frequently works in the context of many modern day settings.

    Lewd words have always been used in writing, but they were frowned upon by educated society. So if an uneducated person was being depicted in a story, it would be understandable to use lewd language for this character. You wouldn't have a scummy sailor talking like a British Navel Captain.

    A modern day story, about current people, would use lewd language in everyday conversation. Sex and The City is an example of this: Samantha swore all the time, Miranda swore less often than she did, but more than Carrie. Carrie swore for effect, so when she swore it was really showing strong emotion. And the goody-two-shoes Charlotte rarely swore and when she did it was shocking.

    Characters can be defined by how they present themselves. It is part of the characterization process and it is necessary to portray the character's vocabulary accordingly.

    P.S. I did find the story by the OP very amusing.
     
  22. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Hahaha! That's awesome. I'm going to use that on someone tomorrow.
     
  23. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    To be honest, my view on swearing in literature is simple. If the character would swear, then have them swear. Having a trucker or whatever using "flip" and "oh dear" all the time just isn't accurate or realistic.

    However, in the actual narration (third-person narration, I mean, first-person is a different matter), I think peppering it with swearing is just lazy. I mean, surely you can find a better way to communicate the narration than just expletives?
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    However, a newbie mistake is to overdo the swearing in dialogue. Always underplay it, a litlle goes a long way. So he swears like a sailor - even sailors have to come up for air from time to time.
     
  25. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    A good point, Cog. I think the thing to keep in mind here is realism. You should always keep the dialogue true to the character who is speaking it.
     

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