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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » F-word and the likes (Page 2)

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Author Topic: F-word and the likes
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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