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Author Topic: F-word and the likes
Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by camus:...
Let me ask this, though, what would be the purpose of intentionally stripping words of their offsensive meanings? Would it then be acceptable to start using the n-word if we as a society intentionally and spontaneously decided that it isn't going to be offensive? [/QB]

Of course. Not gonna happen any time soon though.
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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:But people talk about sex in a crude, dirty, and degrading manner often enough to make the f-word possible. I was not saying that the word "sex" is offensive per se. [/QB]
Exactly: the two words coexist and essentially mean the same thing. However, one is derogatory, the other is not for no apparent reason.
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Legatio
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(Just viewed the Monty Python video; distasteful but nonetheless clever)

I think that the whole problem with the so-called curse words is intent. Typically they are used to show great bursts of emotion, and it really is important to have some words in such a diverse language that we can fall back on to say, "Hey, I'm angry." While simply using that phrase might be much more constructive, it's really unlikely. And most phrases that are deemed bad really don't matter at all if it's clear that the intent isn't there for it to cause harm or show anger. But it's important we can associate several select words with this high emotional level instead of just having extremely high strung conversations.

The "f" word is typically meant to show a high amount of anger or emotion, yet when it's casually used without this intent, most people can stomach it. It allows us to focus being uncomfortable with "f"ing instead of being uncomfortable with sex.

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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by Crocobar:
quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
But people talk about sex in a crude, dirty, and degrading manner often enough to make the f-word possible. I was not saying that the word "sex" is offensive per se.

Exactly: the two words coexist and essentially mean the same thing. However, one is derogatory, the other is not for no apparent reason.
Right. Because some people talk about sex in an offensive way, while others do not. I don't see how this makes anything I said patently incorrect.
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Libbie
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I believe that words only have the power that you allow them to have.

"Bad" language doesn't bother me, but I realize it bothers other people so I try only to use it in dire situations. When other people are around. If it's just me and my cats, all bets are off. Let the F-bombs fly. At my laundry, my bills, my laptop's crappy battery...you name it.

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sylvrdragon
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The only means with which someone could truly insult/offend me wouldn't use any of the words that we currently view as "Vulgar". In fact, the presence of any of THOSE words would cause said statement to lose much weight in the way of being insulting.
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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
...Right. Because some people talk about sex in an offensive way, while others do not. I don't see how this makes anything I said patently incorrect.

I understood your statement as that it were the actions that are offensive, not words. I suggested that since "sex" and "f-ing" relate to the same action yet produce profoundly different emotional response, your statement seemed incorrect.

You argue that "sex" and "f-ing" do not describe the same action, and I might agree to that. While "sex" is generic, "f-ing" implies a derogatory form of copulation. However, it still feels like the power is in the word itself: could you suggest any synonym or euthemism for "f-ing" that does not use an f-word, and produces similar emotional effect?

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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by Libbie:
I believe that words only have the power that you allow them to have...

That was kind of my initial idea: if you do not teach your kids that these words are "bad", then they won't be such. Yet OSC for example seems to imply that he would prefer "zero f-words" in a movie...
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ketchupqueen
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"Screw" does the same thing for me. So does, well, pretty much anything that implies that one person is not necessarily a happy and willing participant, but an object.
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camus
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quote:
I just prefer to make an intellectual decision not to use the words rather than an emotional one.
I guess for my own perspective, I would rephrase this. I just prefer to make an intellectual decision not to use the words based on the emotional connotation. I'd rather it be an intellectual decision to not offend rather than as an imposed limitation due to the deliberate desensitization of specific words. I'm not going to go around saying a specific word in order to offend people, but I'd also rather not be stripped of the ability to be able to use that specific word and have the listener clearly understand my full meaning with all its emotional power and offensiveness.

As has been mentioned, when you strip one word of its offensiveness, another will inevitably rise in its place. I'd rather that happened naturally as opposed to because of a deliberate attempt to make all words equal in power and meaning.

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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by camus:
quote:
I just prefer to make an intellectual decision not to use the words rather than an emotional one.
I guess for my own perspective, I would rephrase this. I just prefer to make an intellectual decision not to use the words based on the emotional connotation. I'd rather it be an intellectual decision to not offend rather than as an imposed limitation due to the deliberate desensitization of specific words. I'm not going to go around saying a specific word in order to offend people, but I'd also rather not be stripped of the ability to be able to use that specific word and have the listener clearly understand my full meaning with all its emotional power and offensiveness.

As has been mentioned, when you strip one word of its offensiveness, another will inevitably rise in its place. I'd rather that happened naturally as opposed to because of a deliberate attempt to make all words equal in power and meaning.

Well, that's not it. I do not wish for stripping the f-word off its meaning and power, just off its stigma of being taboo. Take "a painful death of a toddler being slowly crushed by a steamroller" - that's a very powerful and emotionally charged phrase, however totally acceptable in public. How come a simple "f-ing" isn't?
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Well, that's not it. I do not wish for stripping the f-word off its meaning and power, just off its stigma of being taboo.
The word has much of its connotation and force precisely because it is taboo. Or rather, it's taboo precisely because of it's vulgar connotations and force.

Remove one and you've removed the other, and you'll be left with a word that's equivalent to "screw" or "fornicate". And then people would figure out another word to take f***'s place as the crude way to say that.

quote:
if you do not teach your kids that these words are "bad", then they won't be such.
As soon as they leave your home and go to school, they will learn that yes, those words are not just like other words that mean the same thing.

quote:
Yet OSC for example seems to imply that he would prefer "zero f-words" in a movie...
I sure know that I would. I prefer the same thing in books.
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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
...As soon as they leave your home and go to school, they will learn that yes, those words are not just like other words that mean the same thing.

...I sure know that I would. I prefer the same thing in books. [/QB]

You don't seem to understand what I am trying to say. I do not disagree with you on f-word not being in the books or movies (although I personally do not mind at all). Nor do I try to make the world perfect f-word-wise. Nor do I deny the social influence on an adolecsent.

I simply recognize that the word itself has no intrinsic badness, and a responsible parent should not probably behave like there is one.

I do recognize that my reaction to the f-word is mostly emotional, instinctive, without any justification to it. I cringe when I hear f-word because I was taught from the start that it is bad: bad to say it, bad to hear it, bad in any possible sense. Everybody around behaves like it is bad too.

Ok, that was not all the truth. I do not feel like that about the f-word per se because English is not my native language. Instead, I feel the similar way about curse words in my native tongue. However, I was able to learn that the f-word is inappropriate, and I think that I fully appreciate the nuances of its meanings and emotional poignancy without having any idiosyncratic reaction to it.

Isn't this way better? Shouldn't parent teach children this way about curse words instead of creating neuroses in children? That would imply not guarding children from every use of such words at the least, wouldn't it?

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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by Crocobar:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
...As soon as they leave your home and go to school, they will learn that yes, those words are not just like other words that mean the same thing.

...I sure know that I would. I prefer the same thing in books.

You don't seem to understand what I am trying to say. I do not disagree with you on f-word not being in the books or movies (although I personally do not mind at all). Nor do I try to make the world perfect f-word-wise. Nor do I deny the social influence on an adolecsent.

I simply recognize that the word itself has no intrinsic badness, and a responsible parent should not probably behave like there is one.

I do recognize that my reaction to the f-word is mostly emotional, instinctive, without any justification to it. I cringe when I hear f-word because I was taught from the start that it is bad: bad to say it, bad to hear it, bad in any possible sense. Everybody around behaves like it is bad too.

Ok, that was not all the truth. I do not feel like that about the f-word per se because English is not my native language. Instead, I feel the similar way about curse words in my native tongue. However, I was able to learn that the f-word is inappropriate, and I think that I fully appreciate the nuances of its meanings and emotional poignancy without having any idiosyncratic reaction to it.

Isn't this way better? Shouldn't parents teach children this way about curse words instead of creating neuroses in children? That would imply not guarding children from every use of such words at the least, wouldn't it? [/QB]


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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by Crocobar:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Crocobar:
[qb] [QUOTE]Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
...As soon as they leave your home and go to school, they will learn that yes, those words are not just like other words that mean the same thing.

...I sure know that I would. I prefer the same thing in books.

You don't seem to understand what I am trying to say. I do not disagree with you on f-word not being in the books or movies (although I personally do not mind at all). Nor do I try to make the world perfect f-word-wise. Nor do I deny the social influence on an adolecsent.

I simply recognize that the word itself has no intrinsic badness, and a responsible parent should not probably behave like there is one.

I do recognize that my reaction to the f-word is mostly emotional, instinctive, without any justification to it. I cringe when I hear f-word because I was taught from the start that it is bad: bad to say it, bad to hear it, bad in any possible sense. Everybody around behaves like it is bad too.

Ok, that was not all the truth. I do not feel like that about the f-word per se because English is not my native language. Instead, I feel the similar way about curse words in my native tongue. However, I was able to learn that the f-word is inappropriate, and I think that I fully appreciate the nuances of its meanings and emotional poignancy without having any idiosyncratic reaction to it.

Isn't this way better? Shouldn't parents teach children this way about curse words instead of creating neuroses in children? That would imply not guarding children from every use of such words at the least but a lot of explaining instead, wouldn't it?

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camus
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quote:
I simply recognize that the word itself has no intrinsic badness
Words don't have any intrinsic meaning either. Words mean exactly what society has decided they should mean. The offensiveness of a word is part of that meaning that society has decided upon. Strip away the offensiveness, and you strip away part of the meaning.

In other words, it's offensive because it's meant to be offensive.

The n-word is a good example. Society decided that it's going to have an offensive meaning. Therefore, it's offensive to say because its meaning is offensive. I view the f-word the same way. It's offensive, not because we created a list of words that we arbitrarily decided should not be used in public, but because we decided that it's meaning is going to be an offensive one.

Perhaps another example would be the use of the middle finger. Obviosly there is no intrinsic meaning to raising only the middle finger in someone's direction, but it is offensive, is it not? Its very meaning is meant to be offensive. To decide that it should not be offensive would be to change its very meaning.

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Qaz
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Naughty words are naughty because if they weren't, what would you say when you drop something expensive and break a toe at the same time? "Oh, yadda!"?
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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by camus:...Words don't have any intrinsic meaning either. Words mean exactly what society has decided they should mean. The offensiveness of a word is part of that meaning that society has decided upon. Strip away the offensiveness, and you strip away part of the meaning.

In other words, it's offensive because it's meant to be offensive.

The n-word is a good example. Society decided that it's going to have an offensive meaning. Therefore, it's offensive to say because its meaning is offensive. I view the f-word the same way. It's offensive, not because we created a list of words that we arbitrarily decided should not be used in public, but because we decided that it's meaning is going to be an offensive one.

Perhaps another example would be the use of the middle finger. Obviosly there is no intrinsic meaning to raising only the middle finger in someone's direction, but it is offensive, is it not? Its very meaning is meant to be offensive. To decide that it should not be offensive would be to change its very meaning. [/QB]

Again, not to the point. I am interested neither in how the curse words came about, nor in changing their meaning. I merely question the most common way of teaching children about these words.

If one truly feels that these words are paramount to the culture, and the only way to preserve their true meaning is to create an elaborate neurosis in a child's psyche, then keeping these words "forbidden" is the way to go.

Somehow I doubt that that is what people usually try to do. They probably genuinely try to guard their children from the f-word. Only the way to do this, I believe, is not by hiding it but by destroying the word's offensiveness through treating it as any other word.

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Crocobar
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.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I reject your repeated assertion that it is neurotic to treat certain words as though they are more offensive than others.

[ February 23, 2008, 02:16 AM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I reject your repeated assertion that it is neurotic to treat certain words as though they are more offensive than others.

Again and again, you _misunderstand_. Treat them as you like, as long as you have control over your reaction. My point is that the way most people are about the curse words in their native language, is that their reaction is emotional, triggered by the word itself. What's good about it? You could instead be indifferent to the word emotionally and treat it as offensive purely because you've decided to do so, not because you have to.
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Sergeant
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I've found that not cursing is an effective way to show others that you have self control, particularly in the workplace. I've spend my time in the Army where cursing is just part of life, and without ever bringing attention to the fact that I don't curse it got noticed.

I remember I was at PLDC (a leadership course for E-5/Sergeants) and one of my platoon mates was in the same class and the topic of swearing came up. One of the females made the observation that everyone swears and the guy from my platoon was willing to bet her that she wouldn't hear me swear in the month that we were going to be there.

Now, I must admit, that I did pick up one Russian swear word (only mildly offensive) on my mission. But when I say bliin it surely doesn't have the same effect as someone using our standard English ones.

Sergeant

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Yozhik
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And your Russian swear word literaly means "pancake," anyway.
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Yozhik
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quote:
Wouldn't it be better if one teached his children all words, so a child did not perceive f- and c-words as anything out of the ordinary on the emotional level? Then - one could explain that it is customary nowadays to avoid these words in public.
You don't have any children, do you?

I can't get my toddler to stop climbing up on the kitchen table. I tell her not to, and she does it on purpose anyway. Any word she learns, she's gonna use whenever she feels like it. My only hope is to keep her from learning these words until she's old enough to understand for herself just why she should not use them.

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rivka
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Toddler! Wow, time flies when it's someone else's life!

*waves to Yozhik*

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camus
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quote:
Again, not to the point. I am interested neither in how the curse words came about, nor in changing their meaning.
I don't think you truly understand why some people view offensiveness as an inextricable part of the meaning. You just assume that offensiveness is purely an emotional respone that is completely detached from the meaning. Many people disagree with that.

At the same time, I do appreciate the need for people to adjust their views of a word as the meaning and usage of that word changes over time.

quote:
If one truly feels that these words are paramount to the culture, and the only way to preserve their true meaning...
I'm not sure that anyone here is making that argument.

quote:
...is to create an elaborate neurosis in a child's psyche, then keeping these words "forbidden" is the way to go.
I think neurosis is a bit of an exaggeration.

quote:
Only the way to do this, I believe, is not by hiding it but by destroying the word's offensiveness through treating it as any other word.
But words aren't just like every other word. If that were the case, we wouldn't need a thesaurus. Instead, we have many different words that might refer to the same thing but have different connotative meanings based on the type of emotional response they are supposed to elicit. And offensiveness is a part of that intended emotional response.

And even if you were to attempt to eliminate a word's offensiveness, others will rise in its place, because offensiveness is a real attitude and emotion, and there will always be a way or a word to represent that at its fullest level.

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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by camus:
And even if you were to attempt to eliminate a word's offensiveness, others will rise in its place, because offensiveness is a real attitude and emotion, and there will always be a way or a word to represent that at its fullest level.

Exactly.
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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
quote:
Originally posted by camus:
And even if you were to attempt to eliminate a word's offensiveness, others will rise in its place, because offensiveness is a real attitude and emotion, and there will always be a way or a word to represent that at its fullest level.

Exactly.
Ok, let me try that a different way. Suppose you teach your kid that all words are fine. Or, rather, you do not teach them otherwise. You do not factor in the presence of these words when you try to decide whether a movie or a book is suitable for you kid.

Moreover, every time you child gets an idea that these words are "bad", you dissuade them and explain that the words are perfectly fine, it's the circumstances behind the words that matter. You also explain that people do not like these words without any good reason, but people are often unreasonable, and one has to learn to factor _that_ in his behavior.

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Dagonee
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quote:
You also explain that people do not like these words without any good reason, but people are often unreasonable, and one has to learn to factor _that_ in his behavior.
This is the case you have repeatedly failed to make in this thread: that the dislike of these words is without any good reason. Until you actually address that, I doubt anything you try will matter.
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Crocobar
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Ok, let's deal with a few special cases first. I understand that they alone do not prove the absence of reason behind f-word hate. [Smile]

1. You child drops a hammer on his foot and says the f-word. How is that different from him just saying "AAA"? How is that detrimental to anything in any sense? Yet most parents would mind that, and will chastise the child for saying the word.

2. You child reads a book and in return to you inquiry says that the book was "f-ing awesome". Again, what's bad and how is it different from saying that the book was "way cool"?

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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by Yozhik:
...You don't have any children, do you?...

You're not a real hedgehog, are you? [Wink]
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camus
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quote:
1. You child drops a hammer on his foot and says the f-word. How is that different from him just saying "AAA"? How is that detrimental to anything in any sense? Yet most parents would mind that, and will chastise the child for saying the word.
The difference is that the f-word has an offensive meaning, whereas "ouch" does not. Assuming I had children, if my child uttered a racial slur in that circumstance, I would also chastise him.

quote:
2. You child reads a book and in return to you inquiry says that the book was "f-ing awesome". Again, what's bad and how is it different from saying that the book was "way cool"?
Here I would be upset at the misuse of the word. It has an offensive meaning, so it should not be used in that setting. It would be the same as using a derogatory racial epithet to describe something you like.

[added]
Intent isn't the only thing that determines a word's meaning.

[ February 25, 2008, 12:58 PM: Message edited by: camus ]

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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by camus:
quote:
1. You child drops a hammer on his foot and says the f-word. How is that different from him just saying "AAA"? How is that detrimental to anything in any sense? Yet most parents would mind that, and will chastise the child for saying the word.
The difference is that the f-word has an offensive meaning, whereas "ouch" does not. Assuming I had children, if my child uttered a racial slur in that circumstance, I would also chastise him.
But that's the thing: there is noone around to be offended by it (I assume that you are not offended), so the child did not do anything wrong. What are you going to teach him by chastising?
N.B. Let's not include racial slurs in this discussion if we do not have to: it will only complicate it.

quote:
Originally posted by camus:

quote:
2. You child reads a book and in return to you inquiry says that the book was "f-ing awesome". Again, what's bad and how is it different from saying that the book was "way cool"?
Here I would be upset at the misuse of the word. It has an offensive meaning, so it should not be used in that setting. It would be the same as using a derogatory racial epithet to describe something you like.

[added]
Intent isn't the only thing that determines a word's meaning.

No, here I believe that you are wrong. This is not a misuse of the word. This is an idiom that has a clear positive meaning and is quite widely used. I see nothing offensive about it.

I will agree that the intent is not all. I see no problem given that a child recognizes the potential offensiveness of the word, and only chooses to use it in the presence of likeminded people who wouldn't be offended given that there is no intent.

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camus
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quote:
Originally posted by Crocobar:
Let's not include racial slurs in this discussion if we do not have to: it will only complicate it.

I don't really see how they are different.

quote:
This is an idiom that has a clear positive meaning and is quite widely used. I see nothing offensive about it.
That's fine that you don't find anything offensive about it as long as you don't assume that everyone else should feel the same way as you do.

quote:
I see no problem given that a child recognizes the potential offensiveness of the word, and only chooses to use it in the presence of likeminded people who wouldn't be offended given that there is no intent.
I agree to an extent. I think the meaning of a word is largely determined by the way in which the group of people use it. However, I don't think that the way the rest of society views it should be completely ignored either. I don't really like the idea of people making up their own definitions for words that already have very specific and very strong meanings to everyone else. I do realize that this does happen naturally, but I haven't quite figured out yet where I draw the line.

[Added]
Additionally, I'm not really sure how a parent can convey to a child the full extent of the potential offensiveness of a word in such a way for the child to truly understand.

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Crocobar
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Does the child have to understand truly all shades of meaning of the f-word? Isn't that exactly what parents try to shield them from in vain? [Smile]

Doesn't it look ironic that in order to reach this understanding of the "full extent of the potential offensiveness" of the f-word in a child, a parent has to strive to shield the child from the exposure to the word and fail? While following my suggestion, one does not have to shield anyone from anything, and the result will be the ultimate loss of the f-word's meaning? Seems like just the result everybody's looking for. [Smile]

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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The goal is not necessarily to shield the child, but to prolong the learning of the word until the child is ready to understand why it's not ok to use it.

The F-word's meaning will always be remembered because it's something that constantly goes through several choice teenagers throughout middle school (or so it appears from their conversations) and it is a simple one-syllable word to express it.

We're not looking for an end to the F-word or its meaning. We're looking to minimize verbal abuse.

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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer:... We're looking to minimize verbal abuse.
What could this possibly mean?
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camus
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quote:
Does the child have to understand truly all shades of meaning of the f-word? Isn't that exactly what parents try to shield them from in vain?
No and no.

I was wondering how a parent could teach his child about the potential offensiveness of the word without teaching all the meanings of the word. I'm not sure that is possible, so I think a reasonable solution would be for the parent to forbid the use of such a word until they are old enough to understand the full meanings, including the reasons why they are offensive. Forbidding the use of the word would convey the offensiveness of the word without having to delve into all the possible meanings and uses of the word.

quote:
Doesn't it look ironic that in order to reach this understanding of the "full extent of the potential offensiveness" of the f-word in a child, a parent has to strive to shield the child from the exposure to the word and fail?
No.

quote:
While following my suggestion, one does not have to shield anyone from anything, and the result will be the ultimate loss of the f-word's meaning? Seems like just the result everybody's looking for.
I disagree. I've already stated that I'm not looking to strip all words of their potential offensiveness, and thus, their meaning. In any case, it's already been mentioned that other words that are intended to be offensive will inevitably appear.

I also disagree that the intent of parents is necessarily to shield their children. I think in many cases the parents are merely trying to keep their children from saying offensive things. There were many offensive things that my parents did not allow me to say regardless of the situation or the intent. Profanity was just a subset of those things.

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Libbie
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quote:
Originally posted by Crocobar:
quote:
Originally posted by Libbie:
I believe that words only have the power that you allow them to have...

That was kind of my initial idea: if you do not teach your kids that these words are "bad", then they won't be such. Yet OSC for example seems to imply that he would prefer "zero f-words" in a movie...
Well, he's from a conservative religious group. His preference for zero f-words shouldn't be a big surprise to anybody who knows he's a relatively conservative Christian.

It's not like he's saying he thinks it should be mandated that "vulgar" language never be used. He'd just personally prefer that it not be used.

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King of Men
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You cannot very well be teaching the rest of society that curse words are not really bad. In any case, curse words do actually serve a real function: To wit, they notify the world around you that you are angry or upset. This is useful, important information if true. To signal anger when none exists is not a good thing; it engages brains and attention that are not really needed. This is why I get annoyed at my wife's casual American attitude to the f-word; to her it signals mild annoyance, but for me it says "Major problem! Pay attention!" It is occasionally rather tiring to have to be paying ten-alarm attention to minor upsets.

Now, it's true that the precise words that signal upsetness are completely arbitrary, as in my example above. But then again so is every other word. You wouldn't teach your child to swap 'red' and 'blue' on the grounds that it is purely a social convention which sounds refer to which colour; why would you teach them that the sounds for "I am angry, watch out!" do not actually have any meaning?

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
In any case, curse words do actually serve a real function: To wit, they notify the world around you that you are angry or upset. This is useful, important information if true.
Absolutely. When I was a missionary, my companion made sure that I knew the most common Portuguese swear words so that when they were said, I would understand what was happening. There were several situations I was in later where knowing those words was essential.
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Crocobar
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
In any case, curse words do actually serve a real function: To wit, they notify the world around you that you are angry or upset. This is useful, important information if true.
Absolutely. When I was a missionary, my companion made sure that I knew the most common Portuguese swear words so that when they were said, I would understand what was happening. There were several situations I was in later where knowing those words was essential.
This is exactly what I am suggesting: you understood well enough the meaning of the words, without having to put up with artificial restrictions in regard to those words from early childhood.
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Crocobar
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Let me try to make myself clear one more time.

I am not waging a holy war against curse words. Let them be. Nor do I protect them in any sense.

I merely suggest that all restrictions against any kind of language in children is unnecessary and probably harmful, being it saying or hearing the words, watching movies with them etc. Let children hear it, and do some explanation as best you can.

Some things should not be said but not words. Yes, the f-word can be used in numerous offensive ways. That does not mean that one should forbid a child to use the f-word unconditionally.

A small enough child is excused from following all kinds of social rules. Could anyone be offended by the f-word coming from a 2-year-old, no matter what's the context? When the child is old enough to be responsible, he is definitely old enough to comprehend a parent's explanation.

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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
You wouldn't teach your child to swap 'red' and 'blue' on the grounds that it is purely a social convention which sounds refer to which colour; why would you teach them that the sounds for "I am angry, watch out!" do not actually have any meaning?

F--- does not always mean "I am angry, watch out!" There are many idiomatic casual usages of it as well.
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Dagonee
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quote:
This is exactly what I am suggesting: you understood well enough the meaning of the words, without having to put up with artificial restrictions in regard to those words from early childhood.
quote:
Let me try to make myself clear one more time.
Why do you assume we're not understanding you. We disagree with a basic premise: that these are "artificial restrictions."
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Threads:
F--- does not always mean "I am angry, watch out!" There are many idiomatic casual usages of it as well.

In American usage, yes. Nonetheless, it generally means emphasis, pay attention to what I am saying, this is important. Except in those subcultures that have so overused the word that they've needed to invent different swears, of course. In any case the point remains: Emphasis should not be overused.

As for teaching two-year-olds the words, what is the claimed advantage? I would not teach them to use a bandsaw, either, until they were old enough to have some understanding of the dangers. While curse words are not so dangerous as all that, still they have some power which two-year-olds are probably unready to handle. They'll get the words soon enough, why go out of your way?

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Threads
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Point taken. I didn't mean casual enough for a two-year-old.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Nonetheless, it generally means emphasis, pay attention to what I am saying, this is important. Except in those subcultures that have so overused the word that they've needed to invent different swears, of course. In any case the point remains: Emphasis should not be overused.

As for teaching two-year-olds the words, what is the claimed advantage? I would not teach them to use a bandsaw, either, until they were old enough to have some understanding of the dangers. While curse words are not so dangerous as all that, still they have some power which two-year-olds are probably unready to handle. They'll get the words soon enough, why go out of your way?

Oh, look! Something I agree with KoM about.
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Scooter
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I used to think words were arbitrary too, until I started learning about them. The Language Instinct (book) is an interesting example. I'm not convinced that all swear words have arbitrary origins and meanings--though I'm not totally convinced that they don't.

I just think that some here may not tested their assumptions about language in this discussion. I don't remember enough to elaborate, but I was quite surprised how "un-arbitrary" so much of language is.

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Jon Boy
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I just started reading The Stuff of Thought, which is by the same author. One of the later chapters is supposed to cover taboo words, but I haven't gotten there yet. It sounds like it's going to be interesting, though.
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