Bad Words

Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Vianca, Jul 1, 2017.

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  1. Vianca

    Vianca Senior Member

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    Oh yeah! They'll be flying :supercheeky:
     
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  2. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributing Member

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    Awesome!
    Life's more fun with swearing :bigtongue:
     
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  3. Vianca

    Vianca Senior Member

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    Well, in the correct moment it it. lol
     
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  4. JPClyde

    JPClyde Contributing Member

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    And I'll add another point. What I often tell people is this

    "Words only have the meaning and power you give them, if you chose to not give them power they have no hold over you"

    To me the word Fuck, does not have to be negative. You chose to make it negative. But a comedian once said, that sometimes the profanity is really the punchline in some of the comedy. Curse words are part of human language and reality.

    It can be positive and negative. It depends on the context. And thus they should not be barred from use.
     
  5. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    1/ Yes.

    Most teen novels involve a teen MC because that's what the target audience will identify with.
    Same with YA.
    Trying to interest 17-26 in a 15-year-old? That's what they were like BEFORE they grew up...

    2/ Defying convention isn't the same as writing well and originally. It frequently involves making the same damned stupid mistake as every other wannabe/neverwillbe.

    I'm not saying don't be original; I'm saying don't be original for originality's sake; be original because that's what the story needs.

    3/ A lot of people find somebody swearing to himself offensive, or at least disturbing. (I personally found the start to Three Weddings and a Funeral, which opens with a sequence of nothing but F-bombs, gratuitously offensive)

    ETA: Especially if it's delivered as if intended. Somebody just muttering swearwords under their breath much less so.
     
  6. Tophert79

    Tophert79 Banned

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    I disagree, I say be original. Full stop.

    Well, if a person swears to himself and there's no one there to hear it, who can it cause offence to? Kinda like the "tree falling in the woods" thing, but with more swearing and no trees. (I've not watched it, and after hearing that Andie MacDowell line at the end of the movie, I don't think I ever will watch it. You know the one I mean? The one about "Is it raining...?" Now, THAT to me is more offensive than any amount of obscenities.)

    If you've ever seen "It's always sunny in Philadelphia", you'll know that swearing, with the right context and timing, isn't always offensive and can be hysterical.

    Personally, the stuff that I write has no offensive language. Live and let live.
     
  7. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Just to jump into this thread from a writing perspective. The issue of 'oh I'm so offended—my virgin ears!' mindset doesn't interest me in the slightest. Of course swear words are going to offend certain people—which is fine as long as you know that and act accordingly. Instead, I'm thinking about the annoyance factor, which can certainly creep in, if swear words like 'fuck' or 'fucking' are used constantly as either filler space or the go-to adjective for every occasion.

    I was minded of this the other day, on the bus back from a shopping trip, when I got seated in front of two guys whose conversation fuckity fucked itself from journey's beginning to end. At first it was funny. Then it became intensely irritating. Another mile or so and I would have leaped out of my seat and told them to fucking SHUT up for two FUCKING minutes so I could fucking contemplate my fucking freaky life in relative fucking peace and fucking QUIET.

    I would have been equally annoyed if they had been saying y'know? at the end of every sentence. Or using the word 'like' as if it was seasoning, liberally applied. I was, like, y'know what I mean, like?

    So what am I saying here? Beware of using any words too often, UNLESS you want the reader to be annoyed at a particular character—especially words used as filler. Less is definitely more, when it comes to swearing in dialogue—unless it's creative and non-repetitive swearing, which can not only be fun to read, but fun to write as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
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  8. Tophert79

    Tophert79 Banned

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    In order words, less is more. ;)
     
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  9. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    1/ If there's nobody there to hear it...but I was perceiving an environment where the swearing was done in a public place, where there was somebody around to hear it. Maybe my mistake.
    2/ Never seen either of these movies, so I can't comment.

    But, on the Sunny in Philadelphia point, I suspect I disagree diametrically. All too often I've seen a comedian who will throw in a swear word. the audience laughs, nervously and out of embarrassment. The comedian swears again, and they laugh again. It's not funny, but somehow, having been flooded, they become desensitized to the swearing, and only remember that they laughed a lot.
     
  10. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributing Member

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    I agree... those expletives should not be used at all, in any situation and regardless of reality.

    I'm trying to recall when it was that "fuck" showed up in a novel targeted at a younger YA audience, leastwise that I've read in the last decade.

    There are cleverer ways to get that kind material across to a reader, without resorting to "fuck this and fuck that" at every turn in the story.
     
  11. Vianca

    Vianca Senior Member

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    I'm not planing on writing a profanity dictionary. Not a Fuck, fucking, for fuck sake kind of "tale" I meant the occasional, Shit, crap, Holy shit even. Just "bad words" that sum up to an emotion or action.
     
  12. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributing Member

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    And there's usually no problem in that, especially if it's a contemporary setting and you're writing for a more mature YA audience.
     
  13. Vianca

    Vianca Senior Member

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    I am hoping to gain a mature YA audience.
     
  14. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    The way I see it, swear words have two main purposes in language: to act as filler, and to demonstrate tension.

    When I hear kids (or adults) using fuck or shit every ten seconds, it tells me that they are less educated or less intelligent than I. They serve the same purpose as "uhh..." The conversation is simply moving faster than the brain can keep up with so it throws in some words that can be used in almost any occasion.

    Then there is tension. If you restrict the word to a few key spots, they can have some good impact. I looked back at my short story contest entry from may. In 4200 words, I used "fuck" 9 times, which seems excessive, but it's not evenly spaced out. In fact, there were two spots where I strung a bunch of them together in one paragraph to demonstrate panic (during a shark attack.)
     
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  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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  16. Thundair

    Thundair Senior Member Supporter

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    I don't know how and when a word got to be a bad word, but I was raised in a WASP environment and taught not to cuss.
    Funny thing is, I had to know what the word was, that I wasn't suppose to say. Irony? I don't know, but to me the only bad words are the ones that will degrade someone needlessly.
     
  17. mashers

    mashers Contributing Member

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    Words being intrinsically offensive is totally ridiculous. Intentions are what give words and actions their meaning. If I tell someone to fuck off, that might be intended offensively; or I might be expressing shock (like "no way!"); I might be jokingly telling them to stop something (partner does a stinky fart in my face - laugh and say "fuck off!"); I might be expressing disbelief; or any number of other inoffensive intentions. But just because somebody, at some time, decided that this particular combination of phonemes must never be uttered else offence will occur, we now all have to censor ourself from using perfectly good and expressive words.
     
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  18. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, words are only expressive because of the effects they have on humans - "fuck" is a great example of that, really. I mean, as you say, "fuck off" is completely omni-purpose, so much so that it barely has any intrinsic meaning. I'm not sure how that makes it "perfectly good and expressive" in itself.
     
  19. mashers

    mashers Contributing Member

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    Good point. But then, the same could be said of lots of words, which are only meaningful in context (and by context I mean not only the situational context in which the word is used, but also the context added by the non-verbal communication that goes along with it).

    I think what I really meant about having to "censor ourself from using perfectly good and expressive words" was that it's considered to be offensive even to use them for exclamation and emphasis, despite the fact that this is not necessarily offensive at all.

    These cupcakes are fucking delightful.
    Fuck! I didn't expect a new car!
    *stubs toe* Fuck!

    All perfectly expressive, emphatic and cathartic but, alas, "offensive".
     
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  20. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know. I mean, I don't have a problem with swearing, and I think in spur-of-the-moment situations fuck gets the job done. But I think it could be a hell of a lot more expressive if it were more precise... in the first example it just means "very", really, and that's kind of a wasted word. In the second, I can't tell without more context whether this is a good expression (Yay, you got me a new car) or a bad one (Oh no, I said I'd buy you whatever you wanted, but I didn't expect something so extravagant), etc.

    In the third one, I agree, it's an excellent time to use fuck, but, really, I think we're going back to the emphasis and catharsis aspects, and those only really work because of the forbidden nature of the word. Phonetically, it would be just as expressive to say "Ack!" but we want to say "fuck" expressly because it's a "bad" word and therefore expresses our pain and frustration.
     
  21. mashers

    mashers Contributing Member

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    I think individuals will vary the usage. To me personally and the people I associate with, "fuck" has no offensive potential and is not taboo at all. It is therefore the usage, not the word, which gives it emphasis. You're right, any other word could fill its position. With the first example, I would suggest that there is a hierarchy of intensity in modifiers, including words like "quite" at the more mild end, "really" and "very" in the middle, and "fucking" would be more emphatic even than that. So to me, saying something is "fucking good" just means it's even better than something which is "really" good, which in turn is better than something which is "quite good". Perhaps this perception has come from the evolution of the word as being totally taboo and therefore having maximum impact, but that certainly is not the meaning it has for me. Having said all that, I do recognise that for some people, that is exactly the reason why it has so much impact.
     
  22. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem with your example is that all too frequently it's the only modifier used by the user. Which means it takes the place of everything from not very to exceedingly, and thus means nothing at all.
     
  23. mashers

    mashers Contributing Member

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    I don't know anybody who does that. I don't even know what that would mean.

    These cupcakes are fucking delicious! => These cupcakes are completely and utterly delicious
    These cupcakes are fucking delicious! => These cupcakes are not very delicious

    The second usage just doesn't make sense at all.
     
  24. Thundair

    Thundair Senior Member Supporter

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    One of my close friends uses fuck in every sentence and sometimes it feels like every other word.
    My comment to him was, what do you say when your mad, because that's when I use it.
     
  25. mashers

    mashers Contributing Member

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    To be honest, that does sound fucking annoying.
     
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