Stories and bad words. - Page 4


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Thread: Stories and bad words.

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    I don't write children books, so I go all out. Keeping in mind to write it less like textual communication and more like verbal ones.

    As mentioned a few posts above, for example, the chance of hearing words like 'cunt' and 'cocksucker' spoken out is really low. I've never heard one (when I was living in English-speaking country) but I have read it as texts in forums and whatnot.
    Agreed. I've never heard 'cocksucker' in a conversation that reached my ears. The only time I can remember hearing 'cunt' was in Junior High School, and the kid that used it then didn't even know how to pronounce it. LOL It came out 'cot'.

    Only in movies. Of course, I despise rap, so there's an entire slice of media where I could hear a lot of things, but don't.

  2. #32
    Sir KP Oh i live in an english speaking country too

    and the above is a quote not made up and ......

    yes we are in the colonies
    We are the measure of all things. And the beauty of our creation, of our art is proportional to the beauty of ourselves of our souls. Jonas Mekas

  3. #33
    Member River Rose's Avatar
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    It all depends where ones roots were planted. I live in the country and redneck slang and swearing is our normal native tongue. Doesn’t make it right or wrong. I can see where one would write from their culture background.
    Some girls are made of Supernova’s,Moonbeam dances ,Stardust sprinkles,Forest Witches and Crows Kisses ~ RR

  4. #34
    I go to pubs--one in particular--probably three times a week. No, I'm not a drinker--can't remember the last time I had more than three beer over about three hours. But pubs are the most common gathering places here (Vancouver area) for everyone from the most sensitive artist to the coarsest knuckle-dragger. I have friends in both groups, and for some of these guys (and more than a few gals) extremely coarse language is the norm. Words that would see some of the posters above simply leave the table, you would be that offended and uncomfortable. And that is not good. I am not carrying a brief for coarse language; rather, I am suggesting that an 'open field' approach to the impact of words will take us far beyond the fragility of dictionary definitions, which often define very little because they purport to place strict limits of meaning on words, as though they were entities 'out there' in some sort of 'objective' arena that had detached itself from the humans that invented them. Words are not permitted a life of their own. They are our rebellious servants and behave well when they carry our intent precisely and accurately to our audience, all of whom understand perfectly what we wanted them to understand. That fantasy world is, in my experience, possible to achieve in business and technical language (esp the latter); available in cookbooks and travel descriptions; and both impossible and unavailable in poetry. . . .(please let me return to that last point in a few minutes) .

    IMO, most of the impact of words has very little to do with their supposed 'meaning', and everything to do with the context and circumstances under which they are heard/read plus the pre-loaded baggage the hearer/listener brings to the context. A brief example of just one aspect of this complexity: a group of children are sitting cross-legged waiting to hear one of their favourite fairy tales. The teacher comes in and begins to read. Here are the EXACT words she reads, in the rhythm her young listeners would expect for this particular Tale:

    Wants pawn term dare worsted ladle gull culled Ladle Rat Rotten Hut , hoe laved mitt hear mutter inner ladle how sonar ledge
    oven florist . . . . and so it continues until the woodcutter has hacked the wolf to death

    The reading is upbeat, cheerful, funny or sad, as traditional reading of the tale dictates. Same pace as normal reading of the tale. Few, if any, of the children ever think anything amiss, even though every single word is "wrong". [google ANGUISH LANGUISH for multiple entries about this 'new' language. Introduced in 1940!]. The limited experience of these young children, coupled with a context in which they have certain expectations, and delivered with quasi-homonymic 'sound similarity' only = successful communication of the precise details of a story, but one where not one word of the original story is properly used . No, not one word is used AT ALL. As hearers we are, of course, vastly more forgiving than we are as writers. "Jeet yet?" as spoken language for "Did you eat yet?" or "Have you eaten yet?" is perfectly acceptable. It would be completely unacceptable in written form. Except at the haughtiest levels of teddibly propah haughty aristocratic British usage, a chasm of difference exists between vernacular and formal written English.

    So what does all this have to do with the 'impact' of coarse or obscene words. I would say . . .everything. Foxee says (post 2-eight) that she "can't agree that all words are just words because words mean things." I totally respect that stance, in fact I think I agree with it, but we probably look at the issue thru different lenses and from different angles. I think--please correct me if I'm off the mark-- you mean that there is an inherent odious quality to certain words/phrases, rendered abhorrent by community standards endorsed by most of us, so there is no reasonable justification for using them at all. I would use that same logic to argue the opposite--that precisely because the community standard exists, I can (for example) by putting a few words in a character's mouth, chisel aspects of his personality and values with a few strokes that might otherwise take pages. The groundskeeper's constant use of obscene words is critical to Lady Chatterley's 'awakening to the primal'.

    I'm suggesting that if a person walks into a room and shouts Fuck ! . . .or Kittylitter! . . .or Somnambulistic Shortfalls! they will create an energy field for the hearer's imagination, but they have not conveyed Meaning.



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    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  5. #35
    Since you've called me out, Clark, I'll refine my idea.

    If I wish to insult, curse, denounce, offend, etc. someone or something, using a word or words is generally the way to do it unless, of course, it can be done with a succinct hand-signal. Somehow I have to make my intent known because even if uttered as an epithet, "KITTENS!" may convey disgust but will most likely cause giggles in the recipient.

    My kids asked the best question about this: "Why are swear words swear words? Who picked them? How did they get to be swear words?"

    Considering that a word that's inoffensive in one country can get you slapped if you cross an ocean to another and that just about every nation has their own variety of rude hand signals, that's a good question.

    It's because of intent. Certain words become agreed-upon vessels for contempt and knowingly being inappropriate. Otherwise, they don't mean much at all.

    Put that question together with another. There is a term that originally meant a very dark color that is now a racial epithet. Using the epithet can get you fired. It's a radioactive WORD.

    ...are racial epithets also just words devoid of meaning? Or have we somehow come to a majority agreement that these words are inappropriate?

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Foxee View Post
    Since you've called me out, Clark, I'll refine my idea.

    If I wish to insult, curse, denounce, offend, etc. someone or something, using a word or words is generally the way to do it unless, of course, it can be done with a succinct hand-signal. Somehow I have to make my intent known because even if uttered as an epithet, "KITTENS!" may convey disgust but will most likely cause giggles in the recipient.

    My kids asked the best question about this: "Why are swear words swear words? Who picked them? How did they get to be swear words?"

    Considering that a word that's inoffensive in one country can get you slapped if you cross an ocean to another and that just about every nation has their own variety of rude hand signals, that's a good question.

    It's because of intent. Certain words become agreed-upon vessels for contempt and knowingly being inappropriate. Otherwise, they don't mean much at all.

    Put that question together with another. There is a term that originally meant a very dark color that is now a racial epithet. Using the epithet can get you fired. It's a radioactive WORD.

    ...are racial epithets also just words devoid of meaning? Or have we somehow come to a majority agreement that these words are inappropriate?
    Yes to the latter.
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  7. #37
    Taken to its simplest point words convey thoughts you are trying to bridge to another's mind

    Example I was in a huge swimming pool in a resort in The Dominican Republic

    early in the morning i would do Tai Chi in waist deep water on the basis that my knees need a little help

    eyes closed in tune with nature i prickled even though im alone but ......

    i opened my eyes and three feet away in the 50 metre square pool was a guy peering fixedly at me

    after a few seconds of WTF eye contact i said “its a big pool buddy”

    the guy replied in Portugese no comprende whatever yet did not withdraw

    i raised my voice holding eye contact and told him to

    ”FUCK OFF”

    he immediately left the pool and i resumed doing the Yang Style long form

    my point here

    i was communicating my feelings my outrage and i was totally understood even through a language barrier

    i did not swear at this guy i viscerally communicated with him which sums up swear words to me
    We are the measure of all things. And the beauty of our creation, of our art is proportional to the beauty of ourselves of our souls. Jonas Mekas

  8. #38
    Meaning is a complex, often culturally specific, emotionally charged (hence rationally elusive) issue, and I do not purport to have an 'answer' or 'solution' to the problem. The problem is always the same: how can I use words in such a way that what I want to say is received by my audience exactly as I intended it? If the bathroom is on fire and I'm running towards my unaware family, laughing in the kitchen, and I point back over my shoulder while I scream FIRE! at the top of my lungs, that communication 'issue' has been dealt with perfectly. It will result in exactly the actions I intend. Had I strolled up and said, "Sorry to interrupt, gang, but I just came from the bathroom--wow! the new towels really do go with that wallpaper, don't they?--and I noticed a definite conflagration on the west wall. We probably should do something about that pretty qu . . ." my words would result in the same action as the first scenario, but the communication field would be dramatically different and there would be repercussions for me that would reverberate way beyond the direct action needed.

    Of course, Foxee, if I walked into an arena of 100,000 people, went to the mic and shouted KITTENS! I would get a bemused, soft, open, warm, and gently curious response. . . but I suggest that response has next-to-nothing to do with words qua words and everything to do with personal and learned associations held within memory. Shouting FUCK! would get a different set of responses. But surely naked initial response is not a manifestation of Meaning! I remember a book hugely important in my fumbling (still fumbling . . .) intellectual growth, CK Ogden's and IA Richards's The Meaning of Meaning--"Language is the most important of all the instruments of civilization. This is the premise of a work whose significance to the study of language, literature, and philosophy has remained undiminished since its original publication in 1923." (Amazon blurb). It has been in continuous publication since 1982 and is still used in linguistic and semantic studies as a primary text which argues 'field theory' of "meaning" much more eloquently than can I (the book is available on Amazon in pb for about $15.00).

    We are probably walking more on the same path than different ones. First, and very important, I made a distiction between IMPACT and MEANING. Some words without context have neither impact nor meaning: walk up to a group of people and solemnly say "preponderance" or "temporal zone" or "confluence", nod sagely and move on and they'll probably keep you away from sharp instruments while they make appropriate phone calls, but as words no communication will be conveyed. But, today--if you're white--and you uttered the single word "nigger" to a group of people, the immediate IMPACT would be one of shock, anger, embarrassment, maybe rage . . .even though they have no idea what you MEAN by saying it.

    Gofa raises an interesting point just above. A lot of very harsh, coarse, socially unacceptable words in English (I don't know about other languages) are quasi-onomatopoeic with a strong lean towards clipped, sharp consonants. He was able to convey his strong feelings to a man who presumably did not know the 'meaning' of the word, but 'knew' it was a strongly negative word because of the harsh sound alone. This is primal, though: Gofa could have bared his teeth and roared at him like a lion and got a similar response.

    To summarize our gentle disagreement here: some feel there is meaning in single words. To me, 'meaning' indicates that communication has taken place. Intent has been projected and received. I think that a single word can only open a range of possibility, perhaps instantly narrow an audience's expectation of where meaning will lie, but that meaning itself cannot occur until the word has been placed in a context within which it embeds itself.

    It is an ongoing discussion. One of profound importance to both the writing, reading, and study of poetry.



    ________________________________________________

    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  9. #39
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    I was on my holiday in the Dominican Republic. At the hotel, in the pool, an old guy, some kind of native gentleman, drowning, waved his arms around in this pool. Who let the fellow in? I jumped in to rescue the tramp but all of a sudden in death throes he screamed at me ‘fuck off’ possibly the only English words he knew. What could I do? No helping some folk, I worry about it often.

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by clark View Post
    IMO, most of the impact of words has very little to do with their supposed 'meaning', and everything to do with the context and circumstances under which they are heard/read plus the pre-loaded baggage the hearer/listener brings to the context.
    I've always wondered what makes "bloody" such a volatile or threatening word. I understand it's perceived that way in the U.K. but for the life of me I can't make saying it, hearing it, or reading it disturb me. I wonder what makes a word volatile or threatening? I wonder if it's even possible to make "bloody" a word that would cause me to react?

    Wasn't D.H. Lawrence charged with obscenity because of his use of "cunt" in his novel Lady Chatterley's Lover? If I remember the details correctly, that single word got him in trouble.

    I remember the story about my parents when my great uncle was hospitalized. The hospital sent a telegram that said "we're sorry to inform you that Milford Atkins absconded at 3:00 a.m. this morning." The broken-hearted family was called together. There was much wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then someone found a dictionary and the family learned the actual meaning of "absconded."

    Then I remember the amusing story about my Indonesian friend who went to another island to lead a group of men in a work detail. At one point he told the workers to pick up their shovels and start digging. He didn't realize the word for "shovels" was also the word commonly used for "penis gourds." Someone else had to explain to my friend why the workers were looking at him with puzzled expressions on their faces.

    Yep, context, circumstances, and pre-loaded baggage count for a lot. A whole lot. (I also love recalling "J'eet?" "No, J'ew?" My ancestors pronounced the words this way.)
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