While watching a popular BBC TV interview/chat show last night, I was amused to see the American guest use the word 'fuck' during a little tale he was telling. I wasn't tickled by the fact that he said it, but by his own reaction. He paused and looked around at the audience in anticipation of gasps of shock. It didn't happen, of course. Even the presenter didn't bat an eyelid. The guy merely made himself look like a plonker.
Something else that I've noticed, in contrast, is that when I swear on the internet, I'm often deleted, reported, unfriended or unfollowed and the highest majority of button pushers are Americans.
I've seen US films and the actors swear as much as they do here – or is your version more censored than ours?
We do encourage our children not to swear in front of their elders and such, but we know they do between themselves and their friends.
Many times on film and TV I've seen a crazy, God-fearing, spinster character chastising someone for using the lords name in vain, yet I have never heard anyone say that in real life.
OH GOD! JESUS! CHRIST! HEAVENS! Etc. aren't even considered swearing any more. They can sometimes get thrown in to longer swearing statements that mothers probably would weep at if their child came out with it.
I live in a place with a huge Irish community and they seem even less bothered about what we'd call the more serious words. I think they actually take pride in their skill at swear word usage to get emotion across.
I remember seeing a guy drop a heavy machine from the back of a truck onto his foot. He jumped away from it and instead of screaming in pain, he looked up and cried out, “May Jesus and Joseph fuck you - you bitch's bastard's whore.”
It was plain for all who heard that the poor guy's foot might have been smarting a bit!
I am a huge free speech guy and absolutely despise the current 'political correctness' movement, but I have to say, I'm not at all in favor of relaxing the FCC's (the Federal Communications Commission - the word-Nazis of our air-ways) tight control of certain words. In fact, I'd kind of like to see a few more words added to their list. I know that anyone who has read either of my books might find that hypocritical, but I would ask that you read on to hear why.
First, there are the children. I know that people will say that they will hear those words at school, or from their siblings, or even their own parents, but why add to the mix? The more they hear them, the more likely they will start to use them. Also, a good majority of swear words and phrases are sexual in nature and I don't think a six-year-old should be contemplating why Jesus and Joseph would want to fuck a bitch's bastard whore. When my kids were little, I was a big baseball fan. We lived close to a major-league ballpark and would have loved for my son to have experienced a real live ballgame. But there was no way I would take him there while he was a small child. The mouths of American baseball fans are as foul as any British television show. I didn't want that kind of assault on my son's innocence to take place in the name of entertainment. The innocence of childhood is something we should cherish and protect. We don't need television and radio stealing it away prematurely.
Second, as a writer, I hate what it is doing to the power of those words. I find it sad that the Brits aren't at all shocked or even a bit surprised when the F-bomb is dropped on their tellys. It is becoming that way in the American society and that too is a shame. I'm old enough to remember when those words were reserved for sailors, drug-dealers and pimps and the only time you heard them was when Pops hit his finger with a hammer. Now-a-days people wear swearwords like a badge of honor. They act like it makes them worldly and wise using language once reserved for low-lifes (not that sailors were low-lifes - they just talked like them). I've been around many people who think that 'fuck' is the best adjective, adverb, noun or verb on the planet, and I can tell you that they were neither worldly or wise.
When I first began to blog with Jes, I got on a website that had an exhaustive list of British slang. What I found proved my second point. They have more words for the male genitalia than Kim Kardashian has stretched-out pants. (I won't even begin to tell you about the amount of words they have for female genitalia - endless is the only thing that comes to mind) What has happened is that words like 'dick' and 'cunt' have been used so much that they are no longer effective to get a rise out of people. They've invented words like 'beaver-cleaver' and 'gaping-axe-wound' to get their point across. I will give them points for creativity and imagination. They are the masters at gutter talk; I'm just not sure if that is something to be proud of.
The words you've found, in so-called British slang, for genitalia may be found in porno mags for describing sexual organs, but as swearing for insults sake they do not work.
Calling someone a cunt, dick, arsehole, bollock or shit is a description in itself of the person and has no relation to genitalia anymore.
Let me clarify -
Dick - useless idiot
Prick - annoying idiot
Arsehole - unlikeable idiot
Shit - cruel idiot
Cunt - really cruel idiot
Bell-end - laughable idiot
Bollock - amusing idiot
Bull-shitter - transparent lying idiot
Scrote - sleazy dirty idiot
Fucker - winning idiot
Now the only thing these words have in common are that they all describe different grades of idiot.
So next time someone calls you a prick you will understand, Yes?
Jes, in an attempt to clarify, you have proven my point once again. Arsehole, bell-end, bollock and scrote are words that people would either laugh at or scratch their heads at if called in an attempt to insult here in the states. I wasn't saying that gaping axe wound or beaver cleaver were insults, but I imagine they might be some day. Bollock and scrote started out as slang for male genitalia and ended up as insults because people grew bored with dick-head or whatever. Slang evolves as people use words and grow weary of them. Some of them stick while others fall by the wayside. Cool has been around for a long time, while groovy was short-lived. The more a culture uses slang (whether it be insults or not), the more the need to invent new words. And yes; I understand that you think I am a prick. :P