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Thread: how much swear words, if at all, can a book be allowed?

  1. #1
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    Lightbulb how much swear words, if at all, can a book be allowed?

    I personally have a tendency to put a book down as soon as a swear word is the mise en jour.
    I find they obscur meanings and are unecessary personally.
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  2. #2
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    I generally agree where a third person narrator is concerned (excluding dialogue). But characters or even a first person narrator may be angry, crude, frustrated, lewd, or even too personal by design. They need to speak authentically (for them). I grow irritated at amateurish attempts at short fiction that sometime crop up on this site, which use such language gratuitously in an apparent attempt at authorial honesty. Those kiddies can grow up. On the other hand, I don't necessarily hold back in my essays, reviews, and comments. And policing one another's language is the road to a very bad place. You probably have the best idea in simply putting down a piece of writing you don't like reading. It is an honest response that is respectful of freedom of expression.

    As always, Cacian, you have given us a great topic of discussion.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-17-2018 at 06:17 AM.
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  3. #3
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    They are not found profusely in good writing. There is a good reason. They generally lose force with repeated usage. If a character is ill, it sufficiently presages his demise to artfully show just one coughing fit rather than many. Same with swearing. We get strong ideas about a character rather quickly.

    Conversely, I would never put a book down just because it swore once. Even crude language can be immensely effective in artful hands. I see nothing innately preventing a top piece of literature from being full of swear words, but I do dread its copycats. Let's face it, an author usually has better choices. Then again, gangsters who go around saying shucks and dang it all the time are not doing their job, are they?

  4. #4
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    In Brazilian Literature crude language marks the usage of certain groups or contexts. For example in the 70 students loved to swear because it seemed a newly acquired form of liberty. That, of course reflected on the literature of the time.
    I think one hast o consider crude language in its literary context. I donīt like forced crude language or swearing just for the sake of swearing. It has to be meaningful.
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 05-13-2018 at 09:43 PM.
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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    I look back to when Lady Chatterley's Lover was first published in the UK.

    We were at school at the time, and I believe there were comments from a senior judge on "Is this the type of book you would allow your servants to read?"

    We were of an age where galvanic emotions were stimulated by seeing conventions broken in the use of four letter words, mainly beginning with the earlier letters of the alphabet. Literary considerations were secondary.

    But then with the remorseless advance of time, swearing, (akin the earlier nudity in Playboy) meant attaining a deeper understanding of the circumstances and characters involved in the respective usages / portrayal.

    I personally find the employment in writing or speech of the f & c words can be extremely effective, if used with discernment.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 05-17-2018 at 03:12 AM.

  6. #6
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Ah, where is the MANICHAEAN who used to chase those little shavers off the site for their lexicographical peccadilloes? Can England really afford such a lowering of standards, sir? ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    I look back to when Lady Chatterley's Lover was first published in the UK. We were at school at the time, and I believe there were comments from a senior judge on "Is this the type of book you would allow your servants to read?"

    I think it was a liberal MP (or one of those British things) who had been asked whether he would allow his wife and daughters to read Lady Chatterley's Lover. He said he certainly would, although he would have some reservations about allowing his gamekeeper to read it. But he was just being a witty Britty (as opposed to we wanky Yankees).

    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    I personally find the employment in writing or speech of the f & c words can be extremely effective, if used with discernment.

    Well, I suppose fudge can be effective, but criminently is just so overused.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-18-2018 at 09:04 AM.
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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    You shall know a word by the company it keeps.

    By the way, try using the word for a female donkey or canine on Lit Net and see what happens, even when used in an appropriate context.

  8. #8
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    By the way, try using the word for a female donkey or canine on Lit Net and see what happens, even when used in an appropriate context.

    A jenny?
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  9. #9
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    A double post? #%*&@$!
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-18-2018 at 09:18 AM.
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