Lately, I have heard too many young teen aged girls say F*** (I won’t type it here, though I know we ALL know what I mean so what’s really the point of just not typing it?). Yes, the boys use it a lot, too, but it’s somehow more rankling when a sweet young thing let’s it fly….loudly.
The first reaction is “Man, what a foul mouth!”
But, lately, I’ve realized that I honestly don’t think they know that word is offensive…or ANY word.
So, obviously, this isn’t new….people have used that word for a very long time, and other words like it, equally offensive. But now it’s everywhere……..what’s that MEAN? What’s that say about society?
Do the kids even realize it’s offensive? If it stops being offensive and is used all the time, is it still a ‘bad word’ one shouldn’t use? Is it even a bad word NOW if so many use it so casually?Is it even important that our kids don’t have mouths like that? Yes, I’ve said it a few times…and so have close friends in a private discussion, but not loudly in a restaurant or anywhere else…and we even often say “excuse me, but…” if we use it.
Maybe this is a silly subject, but I’d like your input because writing this and asking you about it’s been on my mind for a while….
Thoughts? Or do you not give a ……………..?
(Fascinating that Dennis Prager devoted an hour to this subject today, two days after I’d written this…he calls it a terrible societal problem….I think he’s right)
When I was young, if I said “crap”, everyone thought of fecal matter, and I’d get my mouth washed with soap.
Now, it doesn’t mean what it meant, necessarily.
Trump can say “schlonged” and I think it’s more graphic than “f***ed”.
Just the culture circling down the drain.
The harvest of the 1960’s?
The F bomb has been around seemingly forever. My dad was in the army in WWII, and explained to me as a kid that when GI’s said things were FUBAR, that meant ‘Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.’ Only a few short years later, I found out that dad was simply cleaning up the acronym for my tender ears.
Then I joined the army. During my active duty, I had to say that I too used the F bomb so frequently, that it really had no malicious meaning anymore. And all of my buddies used it perhaps every fourth word, so I became callous and indifferent to hearing it. It’s just how everybody effing talked.
Eventually I was discharged from the service, and noticed that the civilians around me found that the F bomb was just not something folks used in polite society. I haven’t used the F bomb in quite awhile now. Other than in abbreviated forms such as F bomb, or like you Z: F***,
I even hate reading the word, or the ‘f’. Just because everyone seems to be using it, I still think polite people will refrain. The kids today just haven’t learned actual words that can describe what they are thinking. It still bothers me, but I’m and old prude. Just ask my kids! LOL!
Well, the whole point of spoken language is to express and communicate ideas, and you gotta admit, many of our more common and ubiquitous profanities unmistakably get their messages across quickly to all levels of society more effectively than sesquipedalian, multisyllabicated, pretentious merde.
I have pride in my vocabulary and can confidently speak on the formal, the academic, the professional, the popular, and even the street and gutter level. After all, my BA and MA are in English Education and English Lit. Further, I was an enlisted sailor for nearly 9 years, so I had some great slanguage instructors, even AFTER I got my commission.
Sometimes a soupçon of sass or a touch of shock & awe are very effective punctuators or emphasizers in spoken language. Personally I don’t like to hear ladies use certain words, but who am I, after using them since my early teens, to deny them the same tools I’ve relied upon in particular situations?
I never heard my grandmother utter a profanity in her life (I lived with her ‘til I was 12), and my wife and I carefully avoided using certain words around our children ‘til they were grown and gone.
Today, however, Milady will drop an “F” bomb when necessary for clarity or for stressing a point. I don’t like to hear her do that, but she has as much right as anyone else, including me, to do it, and so long as she controls herself at work or around the grandkritters, it’s kinda mox nix, ain’t it?
When I was on platform at the university, I never – that’s NEVER – used profanity to make a point. I used sarcasm, tone, and volume to identify and accentuate critical points that students didn’t seem to be getting on the first runthrough.
I know for a fact that I use far less profanity these days (in my mid-70s) than I did when I was younger. I’m neither offended nor distracted by obscenities or profanities in other people’s language. For those who use such devices as crutches, however, I tend to make quick judgment of the breadth of their education, the depth of their understanding, and the height of their potential
Profanity is a reflection of how much one part of our society respects the others. Everyone has a right to be profane, of course … but the question isn’t about rights; it is a question of propriety.
Ed…I’d forgotten…”Crap’ DID mean that, didn’t it! And ya, ‘circling down the drain’…
Fredd…thanks….yes, in the service, I’m SURE it’s very used…..but, today, it’s young people, many young girls, and I don’t think they even KNOW enough to realize when they get older they won’t probably use it as much; I think it’s just a vocab word now …I wonder if, because of that, there’s an even WORSE word none of us is aware of, something that still REALLY describes something even worse than F***ed…!!??
Hi, Linda…I think we all kind of grow into prudes as we age….and I think that’s a good thing 🙂
bocopro…excellent overview of profanity. I am quite sure none of us EVER heard our grandmothers use bad language, or even our mothers…not mine, anyway. As I said about “Shut up” was NOT allowed at Chez Z!
And I wish more profs restrained themselves from bad language but I think that’s a sign of ‘coolness’ so they do us it more and more in front of students….
Mustang; agreed. In this new “I don’t care WHAT anybody thinks” atmosphere, propriety is really a thing of the past, sadly.
I am not going to worry about it. In France I’d always say “putain” when I was younger and it had no meaning at all. It’s better if one doesn’t speak that way but when I get upset I do use the F-word.
By the way they use WTF in France now and it’s very odd.
This woman I’ve been living with for over 50 years has one expression that has become knee-jerk for anything borne of frustration, disgust, anger, or even disappointment: “Putangina!”
Anyone who’s been around Filipinos knows the very critical distinction between “Putangina ka” and “Putangina mo,” the former being used more or less as an equivalent of “sonofagun” whereas the latter is inarguably “sonofabitch.” The word itself derives from the Spanish “puta,” meaning “whore,” and the Tagalog “ina,” meaning “mother,” hence the unacceptable insult of “your mother is a whore.”
As in all languages, the principle of least effort has, over decades, reduced the expression to ‘tangina, which has no pronoun and is therefore indefinitely focused, or a bit like the British “Bloody,” the origin of which has nothing to do with blood.
When faced with something very unpleasant or disgusting or frustrating, Reggie invariably says, “‘Tangina!” No pronoun, no “puta,” just kinda like sayin “Fudge!” Everybody knows what you mean, even though you didn’t say anything remotely associated with the reproductive act and are merely respecting your audience’s delicate sensitivities.
I can’t remember ever hearing her say to anyone “Putangina Mo!” in any language, although she often refers to me as a “white monkey” and questions my ancestry, my personal habits, and my value to humanity . . . if not with her words, at least with her eyes and her eloquent silence. I regularly remind her that that’s racist, but she doesn’t seem to give much of a damn.
As to the term WTF, I just saw a Tina Fey movie poster for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot which is the military way of saying WTF.
bocopro, sounds like “putain” in French.
Comes from the same base: Lower Latin word “putta” meaning “girl.” Along the way the meaning morphed into “prostitute.” Earliest use I ever found was around 6th century or so.
PUTA shows up in languages all over the world because of widespread Spanish influence during the age of misadventure from the late 15th to early 18th centuries when Europeans became great proponents of rape and pillage in pursuit of native gold, popular glory, and topless girls in exotic lands.
Fredd, I remember the WW ll expression as SNAFU, meaning “situation normal, all f—-d up.” A movie was even made of it at the time, but they explained it as “fouled up”. The meaning of words change as time goes on, like “guys” are used for everyone now, not just males. It really gets me when a waitress asks my wife and me “what’ll you guys have?” She is young enough to be our grand daughter. Another thing is most people don’t even realize the F word are the initials taken from early English law……Forced, unlawful carnal knowledge”, but its use has descended into a different meaning. Look at the word “gay” as another example. I remember there being others but can’t think of them at this moment. I can give you 87 reasons why I can’t remember (my age!). ;o)
I agree with what you are saying. I’ve noticed it showing up in news stories and headlines. In fact there was some piece of space junk that NASA or someone actually named it the WTF-something or other object.
PS – There is an audio on youtube describing the many uses and meanings of the F word.
When it is used occasionally to emphasize a point, I don’t have a particular problem . However I’ve been forced to endure it, by some, as almost every other word in a sentence which only reveals the boorishness of the speaker.
Our cultural standards are falling, and this is one more sign. We’ll be Idiocracy in a few generations, and I say that as one who has a tendency to foul language and who enjoys wearing jeans to work and hates to dress up.
The word nobody has yet posed here is “idiolect,” which is a form of personal slanguage. But just as with idiom, idiolect has a tendency to go familial, then tribal, and regional, then finally generic.
The original meaning of the word “wife” was “anything female.” Then it become more commonly associated with “woman” in the human sense, and then an adult woman belonging to a particular man (about the time of the shift from Old to Middle English).
Trace the word “bread” back and you find it basically refers to “food,” or “morsel,” or “staple.” In the Old English version of The Lord’s Prayer, the term “daily bread” is gedæghwamlican hlaf. Not difficult to see how we get “loaf” from that, when in fact hlaf did NOT mean that in Anglo-Saxon or Old German. Consider “meat”loaf.
Language is fun. Wish I’d had the money to pursue my studies into English origins, but . . . c’est la vie. When an idiolect gets all growed up, it becomes a regionalism, and given enough time and users, it becomes a dialect, and then finally goes viral into national fait accompli.
When I was a kid, Rhett Butler’s “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn” was absolutely scandalous. But last night I watched a popular TV show on prime-time TV (Rizzoli & Isles) in which I heard words which would have gotten the actors arrested back when JFK was PotUSing.
Incidentally, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a compulsive pedagogue, a habitual pedant, an obsessive tutor.
It’s obnoxious to hear, especially in the context we usually hear this now. Or maybe we don’t have ‘polite society’ anymore. I believe young trash talkers know perfectly well they’re being rude and offensive to others around them … and wish to be.
What I find interesting is that I cannot think of another word that accurately describes the activity it refers to.
I got this from someone who apparently writes resumes “As common as the “F” word is, it still doesn’t sit well with people in a more formal environment. I had a young woman requesting that I rewrite her resume. Her primary complaint was that no one took her seriously for a management / directorship position. Her business letter sounded like a conversation on the New Jersey docks – filled with four-letter words and yes, the “F” word as well. After I redid her document, I advised her to clean up her mouth, because as a manager, she would be dealing not just with Americans but with people of other cultures who would be offended and probably not do business with her or the company. It never occurred to this “lady” that her mouth might have cost her jobs that she was qualified for.”
Baysider, I think some kids do it on purpose, I think far more do not…they just use it like ‘the’ and ‘and’.
EVERYBODY: I brought up swearing today in one of the 3 classes I sub’d….(Bio and Algebra, those POOR KIDS :-))….They were all shocked at young girls using that word…these are 14 and 15 yr old Freshmen and all said they can’t even say “Damn” at home…one boy actually SPELLED “D A M N” instead of saying it…and his face was squirming at that!!..I wanted to rush over and hug him!
SO, a little confidence in young mankind restored for me!!
bocopro’s right…I had heard that “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn” was utterly scandalous when God With the Wind came out…….oh, for those better days.
Yes, Cultural Standards are certainly falling….I feel for our children.
ALSO: My post was mostly about YOUNG PEOPLE, YOUNG GIRLS PARTICULARLY, using this language……..I’m not so hung up on adults using it from time to time…….I do, I have to admit, when it’s warranted!!……..but
Kid is right…hearing it on TV is prevalent and it JANGLES my nerves…I’m always so stunned…
There’s a restaurant called Fuddrucker’s nearby…tell me that’s not a play on words….I think it’s probably a chain.
It’s a chain Z.
I’ll add our company must get tax breaks or something for hiring ex-cons/gangbangers. We had a black guy -= Nick, in there for a year. Every 3rd word was MFer. I’m sure he had no idea it could be offensive. He left after he got into a fight with another black guy, was losing and picked up a lead pipe to hit him with. The HR lady got it away fro him and buh bye now. He had to go at that point, else someone could sue them for a future incident since they now knew how dangerous he could be.
Also, I come in one morning a couple years ago, and someone has their very young black kids in the break room watching TV, (Don’t know what channel, thought it was BET) becuase the day care was not available or sometihng, and there is a rap song playing witht he lyrics “Read a book, read a book, read a MFing book”. These kids are single digit age.
I remember when I was in basic training in 1951 there was a young guy from another country, which one, I don’t remember, and one day he asked what the F word meant. We all laughed, then someone asked him what he thought it meant, and he said sexual intercourse, and we told him he was right, then he asked why we say pass the F——g butter, or we’re F—–g mad, etc. We all laughed because he was really serious. I mean, how does one logically explain that to him?
Oh, kid…SEE? They don’t even realize MF might be real offensive to people.
Mustang, the more I think about it, gets it most right; it’s about respect for others and , in my opinion, falls in with breast feeding with no cover in front of men and children (yes, I’ve seen it), women who wear stretch-clothing over 9 month pregnancy bellies…man, if there’s anything unholy about dressing, that is IT.
Dennis Prager talked about how UNHOLY our culture’s become….pregnancies are now called BABY BUMPS, which make it so ‘throw away’..so dismissive and cheap. I believe those lousy very VERY tight pregnancy outfits are unholy…some things are best kept beautifully private between a woman and her (hopefully) husband.
People swear, people cross the street knowing YOU in the car are the one to worry about not hitting them, not THEM, God forbid!
Unholy is a very good word for all of this, i think.
Mal…someone told me once that it was a noun, a verb, an adverb, a pronoun, an adjective and more! It can be used in any situation.
Imp: That’s true….one really GOOD thing about that word is you can use however you want to!
That was hilarious, John! And Imp, what you said is true It all depends on how the word used.
The F bomb is OK to use, and oral sex is not considered real sex. Just ask the Clintons.
John: F’ing aye!