Tag Archives | Profanity

The Proper Use of Profanity

Picture: Jeremy Foo (CC)

Noah Brand writes at the Good Men Project:

I’m going to warn everyone right now: the language in this post is going to be pretty fucking strong. There are going to be nasty, derogatory references to male and female genitalia, bodily functions, sexual acts, and some hygiene products. Some of these will be offensive to almost any set of sensibilities. That is, I must admit, kinda the point. You may want to stop reading now, in fact.

It’s about time someone wrote a proper article on how to use English profanity effectively. I look at the young people today hoping that TYPING IN ALL CAPS will make their weak, unstructured swearing more impressive, and all I feel is pity. English is perhaps the most exquisitely expressive language on Earth, with a working vocabulary twice the size of most languages, and a history of pure invective that can stand up against any living tongue.

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Crikey! Aussies To Be Fined For Swearing

350px-Profanity.svgWhat the f*#^? The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Australians may have a love of plain speaking but new laws are set to curtail some of their more colourful language with police issuing on-the-spot fines for obnoxious swearing.

The country’s second most populous state Victoria is due to approve new legislation this week under which police will be able to slap fines of up to Aus$240 (US$257) on people using offensive words or phrases.

Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark said the penalties, similar to those issued for speeding or parking illegally, would free up police time.

“This will give the police the tools they need to be able to act against this sort of obnoxious behaviour on the spot, rather than having to drag offenders off to court and take up time and money in proceedings,” he said.

But even the state’s top lawyer admitted to swearing sometimes. “Occasionally I mutter things under my breath as probably everybody does,” he told ABC radio.

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Swearing Helps Ease The F*!#ing Pain

ProfanityFrom Tiffany Sharples via TIME:

There is a certain four-letter word that evokes much emotion, is often uttered by mothers giving birth, and whose usage by humans is thought to be evolutionarily adaptive: f___!

According to a new study by British researchers, saying the F word or any other commonly used expletive can work to reduce physical pain — and it seems that people may use curse words by instinct. Indeed, as any owner of a banged shin, whacked funny bone or stubbed toe knows, dancing the agony jig — and shouting its profane theme tune — are about as automatic as the response to a doctor’s reflex hammer. (See 20 ways to get healthy and stay that way.)

To figure out why, psychologists at Britain’s Keele University recruited 64 college students and asked them to stick their hands in a bucket of ice water and endure the pain for several minutes.

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ACLU Fights Against Jail Time For Swearing In Pennsylvania

For those who like to pepper their speech with profanity (and don’t we all from time to time?), you might want to steer clear of Pennsylvania until the ACLU makes it safe for you: they are suing the police in Pennsylvania for issuing tickets, which carry a jail sentence, to people for swearing. Story via Reuters:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed the lawsuits earlier, argues that the right to use profanity is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“Unfortunately, many police departments in the commonwealth do not seem to be getting the message that swearing is not a crime,” said Marieke Tuthill of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The courts have repeatedly found that profanity, unlike obscenity, is protected speech.”

Obscenity, under the Supreme Court’s definition, refers to speech that mainly appeals to the “prurient interest” in sex, according to the ACLU.

One lawsuit involves an unidentified woman in Luzerne County in northeast Pennsylvania who was given a citation which carries a maximum penalty of $300 and 90 days in jail after she yelled an offensive word at a motorcyclist who swerved close to her in October 2008.

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