Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Don't read this post if swearing offends you

Do you swear when you are

  1. alone?
  2. with close (adult) family?
  3. with your children or grandchildren?
  4. with close friends?
  5. with acquaintances ?

I am a grandmother, and a liberal Quaker and I would tick 1, 2 and 4.

When I was a religious born-again evangelical Christian teenager - in my former life - I thought swearing was a sin. Now I think the issues are about good taste, and whether your swearing offends other people.

The TV programme The Thick of It has been recommended to me more than once by people whose opinion I value, but when I tried watching it, there was so much distasteful swearing on it that it spoiled my enjoyment and I switched it off. It was partly about the quantity of swearing but it was also about the words they used - ones I would never say.

I am currently watching a comedy drama series in which the word fuck appears fairly often. It is not used gratuitously and it doesn't offend me. Does it offend you?

The word seems particularly effective in the impatient injunctions: 'Shut the fuck up' and 'Sit the fuck down.' I don't just find it effective, I actually like it.

In my current quiet work-in-progress, someone who doesn't swear much is in a situation where she is shocked and very angry and she says 
‘Yes I fucking saw and I fucking heard. Who is she?’ and it seems entirely appropriate, and the thing is...I can't think of another way in which this character would express herself so effectively in this particular situation. 

I'd love to hear your views on all of this.

(p.s. the swallows will be back next week)


marmee said...

Well, I use "fuck" on my own and in from time to time in conversation with my son. Usually i try to be careful as the rest of my family do not swear and I now have a 4 year old grandson! I am certainly not offended by swearing in books and movies etc if it fits, if it makes sense and i do have to say neither are my family . In my opinion . "fuck" in particular has developed a meaning separated for the original . It feels almost like it is now not a swear word but a word of extremity.

Sue Hepworth said...

That's very interesting what you say about 'fuck'. I like the actual sound of the word - quite distinct from its meaning - it is a hard and sharp sound and is very expressive because of that.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. Maybe I’m just an old-fashioned prude but I don’t like to read or hear the words fuck, shit and arsehole. Their use has become so commonplace, especially in American television and films, but when you think about it they are pretty disgusting words to use in public. In answer to your list I would say I do 1 and sometimes 2 but not 3,4 or 5. What is wrong with ‘normal’ expressive words or lighter swear words such as bloody? I really don’t think it is necessary or pleasant to use such strong swearing in front of other people.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks for your comments, anonymous. It's good to hear how other people feel about this issue.

Concerned of Cliftonwood said...

Hiya Sue. This is completely off-topic, but I couldn't find your email address. Anyhow, I randomly found this blog written by an author from Sheffield which 'charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life' Somehow that made me think of you....!:



Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks for this, Chris.nShe obviously loves Liverpool as much as I do. I can't wait to go back.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous and it is not natural for me to swear - except in response to something startling - I find I come out with shit - under my breath, out loud, on my own and with others. Depends who I am with if I am embarrased and appolgise or not. Working in the past with those who used the full range of expletives has led to my thought life containing some of those I was exposed to on a regular basis, so goodness knows what I will come out with if/ when I get dementia! As a chritian I do not think it is a sin to swear - any words used with intent can cause offence and visa versa. However I would be sad to hear my children swearing though now grown, and if people appologise to me when they swear (apart from being a bit bemused as to why they appologise to me) I usually explain that I am not offended by graphic swearing but that I do find blaspheming difficult but again it depends on context. Jenetta

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you for your comment, Jenetta. It's good to hear your views.

Sue Hepworth said...

p.s. I quite see and understand that blasphemy is another issue, Jenetta. I was thinking of other types of swearing when I wrote the post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sue, I understood thats what you meant. Thanks for posting about it - led to an interesting discussion with my hubby. Jenetta