On Bleeps and other Onomatopoeia..

As an American, I’ve been brought up in a culture where swearing is considered almost a mortal sin. You never see anyone swearing on TV, and if you so much as utter a curse word in public, you’re looked upon as some kind of pariah who has no decency or intelligence. Either that or, depending on how foul your language is, a sailor.

Naturally, you would expect that I might be offended at someone who would swear, and would almost come to expect the words to be edited out, or bleeped, or somehow adjusted to take away the shock. And you’d be right. About a year ago, Snoskred gave me a link to an article (I don’t remember where it is, or much about it) which didn’t censor the word “fu*k”, and this offended me. So, I said something to her about my offense to it, and basically the discussion led me to understanding that it isn’t a mortal sin to swear, and that there are times when you can definitely do it. Though of course, there are times to not practice the art.

In fact, by the end of that day, I had built up the courage (yes, I know it sounds funny to think that someone has to build courage to swear, but I did have to) to actually say “fu*k”, albeit somewhat quietly and without much confidence. Slowly, I did start integrating the word into my mental vocabulary and also in some conversations; though I do still use “fill” words at times around my mother even though the times that I’ve let one slip nothing has happened. It’s probably because she swears every once in a while, most often on the road.

More recently, another word hit my radar screen – it’s one that you’ll hear from time to time down under, most likely in a pub when a group of mates get together. Now, if you are easily offended, I’ll add here that this word is Robin Williams’ least favorite swear word, and is one that is part of the original list of “seven dirty words” made famous by George Carlin. That word is “c*nt”. I have to admit that I’m still not 100% confident in the use of the word, but it’s coming to me quickly.

Recently, I’ve seen a couple of bloggers mentioning their use of swearing in their lives. One’s at Oh For Fun and the other at Memoirs of a Gouda. What’s in common with both of these posts is that they’re simply admitting to something we all do – use swear words from time to time.

Quite honestly, if you were like I was – offended by swear words – I have a couple of suggestions. First, don’t get offended, just let it go (unless it really *is* a place where you shouldn’t swear).

The second tip is to find yourself an Aussie friend. They’ll tell you that swearing is acceptable and something that is done all the time there, even on TV where people aren’t punished for using language on TV. Sometimes, during a racing broadcast, it’ll slip through and the announcer will say something totally obvious like “Well, that’s the heat of the battle there” and not outright apologize for the use of language. Here, if the same thing happens, generally the driver or person responsible will be fined by the sanctioning body.

I’ll let you go with two video clips here. The first comes from the first V8 Supercar race at Winton in Benalla VIC. Mark Skaife had just spun off the track and was chatting on his radio with his crew. I think the language is pretty clear, yet note the silence afterwards 😉


Next, is this clip from the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Bristol in March, 2006. It’s a bit longer cos I can’t clip the file as I used the wrong audio type. Note how quickly the announcer (Mike Joy) jumped in to apologize for the language. However, I believe that there were no fines leveed because this was broadcast over the team’s radio and intercepted by Fox.


2 thoughts on “On Bleeps and other Onomatopoeia..

  1. I wouldn’t say we *don’t* get offended by swearing. Just that we’re less puritanical about it all. It’s just used to “colour-in” what is being said.
    Having said that, excessive swearing is like excessive exclamation marks – dilutes the effect.

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