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Thread: The "F" Word.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The "F" Word.

    The “F” Word.

    Lately on Lit Net Forums we are experiencing an increasing number of shared stories, in which the “F” word constitutes part of the contents. Not that any innocent eyes can discern the actual content, due to the incumbent Iron Dome software that reduces each incoming gros mot to ****.

    I thought therefore at this juncture, that it might be useful to share with other members, some personal thoughts on the usage of this very flexible, controversial yet important word.

    Firstly let me say up front, that using words in the English language invariably starting with the earlier letters of the alphabet, continues to be part of my everyday working life. But that is the spoken word, which gives ample allowance for effective delivery. A short curt “**** off” is highly instructive in clearing up any misconceptions regarding ones feelings, and although politically incorrect, leaves the recipient with a sensible indication of your current state of/ lack of, gravitas.

    Using the “F” word in literature though is a different ball game. It starts off as being, ( like drugs and sex outside of marriage) something that must be tried, or at least indulged in. Its frowned upon by polite society, and therefore being independent minded, I must try it. Fine, but then to what extent?

    To swear continuously in writing is to my mind quite simply boring, but to use it in a more subtle manner, actually takes quite a bit of talent. Some of you might be familiar with the British comedy series “Only Fools & Horses,” where Dereck Trotter is accosted by a tart under a London station clock. He thinks mistakenly that it is his blind date, and then when reality dawns, proceeds to tell her in a narrative that is perhaps not completely true to the series;

    “Why don’t you ******* take your ******* **** and stick them sideways up your ******* ****”

    She responds in a demenour of professional certitude,

    “That will be an extra.”

    I’m sure by now that the reader appreciates that I use this example as an illustration only, regards the potential of using the “F” word in conditions of humour. Over the years I have found that some of the most effective swear words are those that are original, or encompassed within a twilight zone of gentle incomprehension.

    “Naff off,” from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne to a photographer who snapped her being unseated from her horse comes to mind. Another that I was once gratified to hear was from an old Etonian who when upset by a particularly irritating person, commented that “He did not give a fishes tit for Major Hayes Allen.”

    Finally in conclusion, you must excuse me if I have rambled on a bit. In fact a few of you might be wishing me to have gone forth and multiplied, but I thought it excusable anyway to get this off my chest.

    Regards
    M.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 10-14-2014 at 10:24 PM.

  2. #2
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    MANICHAEAN I am not a fan of the F word and never will.
    I feel swearing does not belong in a story or a book.
    I don't see the point of it when there are so many other grander words to be had.
    so no F word for me I am afraid.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

  3. #3
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    I don't use it either. I suppose it could be used as part of dialog or comedy, but one wants the characters to be saying something more interesting and use of these types of words by a character might get too much importance.

    In literature, I agree, it is likely to bore the reader or even make the reader hostile to the writer.

  4. #4
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    When Harold Ross was editor of the New Yorker, Dorothy Parker promised to complete an article for the magazine by a certain deadline, despite the fact that she had just gotten married and was on her honeymoon.

    A day or two before the deadline, Ross wired her, reminding her of the due-date for the story.

    Parker wired back (from memory): "Can't make deadline. Too f---ing busy, and vice versa."

    Surely nobody would want to expunge that literary anecdote just because it involves a taboo word!

  5. #5
    Translator Mohammad Ahmad's Avatar
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    Using F word is sometimes to support a hallucinant pleasure especially in short stories and some of greedy poets for sex but not all of them.
    These motives sometimes will find its way through poetry to amuse the very exhausted irritating souls in love or that cannot know how to use the bright and honest literary words, it is also has been found in the Arabic popular poetry which it is always written in a slang language.
    My country is the Home of Honour And
    Without honour I haven't Home
    MMA

  6. #6
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    When Harold Ross was editor of the New Yorker, Dorothy Parker promised to complete an article for the magazine by a certain deadline, despite the fact that she had just gotten married and was on her honeymoon.

    A day or two before the deadline, Ross wired her, reminding her of the due-date for the story.

    Parker wired back (from memory): "Can't make deadline. Too f---ing busy, and vice versa."
    Did Western Union allow profanity at the time?

    I remember reading this incident in John Lahr's biography, "You Might as Well Live." My memory's not what it used to be,
    but I recall it as a "live" exchange btwn Benchely and Dorothy with Ross on the phone. Her reply-- if I'm not mistaken--
    was "Tell him I'm too ****ing busy. Or the other way around."

    And here's my comment on the original post:

    On extremely rare occasions, the word in question is the only one that will do. Please note that I said "extremely rare."

    All too often a long string of verboten terms displays only a limited vocabulary and imagination on the part of the speaker. I do enjoy watching dramatic and comedy series on the cable channels exempt from the regulations imposed by the FCC on broadcast channels, but I sometimes think that HBO and others depend entirely too much on explicit sex and language simply because they can.

    There have been a number of university studies on the use of profane language. Some research has shown that swearing acts as a "buffer" preventing the initial incident from escalating into physical violence.

    Other studies seem to indicate that if a young person uses such language consistently he or --let's face it--she is likely to succumb to violence, the stepping stone, or slippery slope, whatever you want to call it. Look at it this way, if you use the "f" word to describe everything from the weather to the salt shaker, the word itself is going to lose its power. If you swear a proverbial blue streak --and the pressure valve is still ready to blow--what are you going to do? POW--right in the effing kisser! So a word to the wise--use foul language only when absolutely necessary.

    Despite all that (note I didn't say "Having said that. . .") -- every bit of me is against censorship. Once the authorities start censoring material for its explicit language, they open the door for all kinds of suppression of political speech and the like.
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 10-15-2014 at 03:37 PM.

  7. #7
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I did a quick internet search:

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talkorothy_Parker

    http://listverse.com/2008/02/05/top-...orothy-parker/

    http://thinkexist.com/quotation/too_...er/262678.html


    The story is funny whether it's 100% true or not (and I like "or vice versa" better than "or the other way around"). I always hope that when my friends tell funny stories about me they make me seem as witty as possible, even if that involves some judicious editing.

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    Well,Ecurb, if it's on the Internet, it must be true.

  9. #9
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. -- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (I think).

  10. #10
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Depending upon the story, I think that using swear words in general can bring realism into the story because the truth is that such words are a part of our vocabulary and a lot of people use those words, so it is only natural to me that such language would appear within the dialogue of a story. It doesn't have to be used excessively, but I think there are some situations in which it is certainly understandable why a character would use a swear word. Particularly in moments of anger, frustration, fear, such situations in which a real person in that place would likely use those very same words.

    Also sometimes authors use those words to make a particular point about the personality of the character. Sometimes using swear words is just part of who that character is, and the kind of person they are, their background, lifestyle etc.

    I am not really bothered by the use of curse words in books.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  11. #11
    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Also sometimes authors use those words to make a particular point about the personality of the character. Sometimes using swear words is just part of who that character is, and the kind of person they are, their background, lifestyle etc.
    The gratuitous use of swearwords is a sign of inadequacy but I agree that as an indication of a fictitious character's personality they can be used sparingly: overuse deadens their effect. Even here, there is no requirement to actually write the word, as asterisks will give a heightened impact to their use. Here's a passage from my novel A Tangled Web in which a duplicitous publicity agent ( aren't they all? ) is talking to a promoter about pop music.

    “But you couldn't make the same kind of money that you can now. These days the mugs simply queue up to give you their cash. Get some kids with a stupid name and an electric guitar apiece and start the publicity machine rolling. It’s made both our fortunes but sometimes I feel as if I could scream when another group comes to Inyaface Publicity. If only once, just once, it was someone of real talent and not another ******* pop group.”
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

  12. #12
    Registered User 108 fountains's Avatar
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    Agree with all that's been said. Depending on the context, profanity has its place. Jerrybaldy's poem, Us., uses the word "bastard" (admittedly a pretty tame word as an example of profanity) where no other word would have done quite as well. But overuse of swearwords, especially when there is no real need for it, is just annoying, and (to me anyway) comes across as coarse and vulgar. We may speak that way, but there is a difference between speaking and writing, and excessive use even in speaking comes across to me as coarse and vulgar.
    I disagree with Emil about the use of asterisks - to me, they are more annoying than the word(s) they replace. But then that's just a matter of taste, as is all of this.
    A just conception of life is too large a thing to grasp during the short interval of passing through it.
    Thomas Hardy

  13. #13
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I agree (in general) that using asterisks to represent swear words is a bit twee (actually, I just wanted to use the word "twee"). Let's face it, nobody of normal sensitivities is offended by swear words any more, and in Emil's example, the asterisks could represent several words, each of which helps the reader depict a slightly different speaker. Asterisks remind me of regency novels in which someone lives in *****Shire. Does anyone know why 19th century fictional characters' addresses must remain a secret? I've never figured it out.

  14. #14
    Registered User 108 fountains's Avatar
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    Although it's a bit off-topic, I've wondered the same thing. And also names. Why do so many 19th century fictional characters have no names, or only initials, like Mr. _____ or Dr. S____ V____ ?
    A just conception of life is too large a thing to grasp during the short interval of passing through it.
    Thomas Hardy

  15. #15
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    I agree (in general) that using asterisks to represent swear words is a bit twee (actually, I just wanted to use the word "twee"). Let's face it, nobody of normal sensitivities is offended by swear words any more, and in Emil's example, the asterisks could represent several words, each of which helps the reader depict a slightly different speaker. Asterisks remind me of regency novels in which someone lives in *****Shire. Does anyone know why 19th century fictional characters' addresses must remain a secret? I've never figured it out.

    I agree with you about the use of asterisks. While in some cases it might be obvious what they are saying, in other cases it could be more vague and many different words could be used to fill in the blank,

    And even if I know what is meant to be there in place of the asterisks I do not think that seeing a bunch of asterisks there has the same impact as reading the actual word.

    Also the use of asterisks in place of swear words is censorship, and I do not like censorship.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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