Andy's Workshop

Game chat and stories along with some articles probably for the more geeky among us,
all written by me, Andy.

Click here for my Frontierville Addiction Therapy Guide

Friday 25 February 2011

Turning the air blue...ish.

[WARNING, may contain language that will offend. But probably not.]

Something that's come up a couple times recently has been the issue of swearing on the internet, even what COUNTS as swearing and whether we should be allowing it on the page.

Now, it'll come as no surprise to most people reading this I am something of a curser in real life. If I smack my thumb doing DIY I do not, despite my Englishness, say "golly, that's a rum do...", I descend into a few choice words that are usually bleeped out on TV.

I think it's GOOD to curse randomly at pain and life in general. It lets out the anger, eases our mind and hopefully stops us bottling everything up until we become small balls of rage just waiting to go postal.

However, when it comes to the internet I do baulk at using profanity on the page. This is partly because I'm an admin and, despite all evidence to the contrary, to try to act like a responsible adult. It's also because it just doesn't seem right, the page is a public space and is full of people I know as members, but don't know personally.

I wouldn't sit in a cafe or pub cursing loudly, I wouldn't sit in a park shouting profanity until my face went blue. I don't believe in swearing excessively in front of children or people who find it distasteful.

But... this then brings up the question of what IS swearing?

Let me pop a few words out to you and see if you faint or not.

Darn, heck, fudge, flip, pish... Or my late father's favourite, bollards.

Anyone feeling a little lightheaded? Any red faces at my vile tongue? I certainly hope not.

For as long as I can remember I've known these semi-curses are out there. I certainly didn't know what many of them were replacements for when I was a kid, I learnt as I grew up and my language expanded to the more adult end of the spectrum.

I would happily use any of those words on the page and be fine if others did the same. They're sort of... swear words with immunity. We know what people mean when they say fudge, but in my mind it loses all it's impact. It's like saying we can't use the word poop because we know it also means sh... you know where I'm going.

What's often interesting to me is how ordinary words became swear words... or when swear words became ordinary words, I'm nerdy enough that the genesis of language interests me, the basis behind words and their history. This often shows up strange times where words have almost changed morality overnight.

I will now say a rude word... those of a sensitive disposition look away.

Right. Poppycock. Any reaction from those not looking away? POPPYCOCK. How about now?

Poppycock, for those who don't know, is a largely English word, usually used by army officers in films to say something is rubbish. "They're going to attack us tonight? Poppycock!"

Here comes the interesting part. That word comes from Dutch originally, and directly translated means soft sh... poop.

I think it's fair to say if you told someone what they'd said was "soft poop" they'd be a little more unhappy than calling it poppycock... because that word has been leeched of it's origins and become fair game.

On the other hand, we have the C word. Four letters, ends in T... I think everyone reading this probably knows the word of which I speak. It's generally held to be the most vile swearword around and still not allowed in polite society or on the TV. Use it in a live broadcast on the telly and you'll be presenting a shopping channel in the middle of the night before you even hear the echo.

Even I will refrain from using the C word, except in the most extreme cases. I'd NEVER say it to someone I didn't know and I'd never use it to describe someone.

However not that long ago, a mere blink of an eye in galactic time, that word was totally acceptable, in fact it was the de-facto word for describing that part of a lady in slang terms. Many bits of literature from around that time use it openly, even the more "serious" ones, not just the generally rude Chaucer etc.

In a relatively small step of time that word has gone from open and easy usage, to possibly the most hated word in the English language... and we don't really know why. One day someone decided it was rude, mentioned it to someone else and, in a wonderful example of the evolution of language, before long it became texto non gratis.

Of course, both geographical and social factors influence language, we can see one such thing in this very game of ours.

The good lady Fanny Wildcat, possibly prime suspect number one for the most innuendo laden sentences used in Frontierville, but it's fairly obvious that the designers were American, or at least not British.

You see, a fanny in America is a light slang term for a bottom. Here in Britain a fanny is the word for something on the opposite side of the pelvis and only owned by the female half of the population.

This does put something of a new slant on some things in game...

It's still something of an allowed term, a mere 3 or 4 on the grand scale of swearing, but it's fair to say it's a little ruder than it is for Americans.

Strangely it actually starts a whole chain of language differences from each side of the pond. What Americans call a fanny the UK calls a bum, which to Americans is what the UK calls a tramp, and in America a tramp is a promiscuous woman... and lo we return to Fanny.

I've spent a few interesting nights talking slang differences between the cross-Atlantic versions of English and it certainly brings up the potential for some interesting misunderstandings... (For example English people, do not ask in New York where the tramps are...)

As for social differences I think the most obvious is the view on blasphemy. I hold my hands up to be a perennial user of exclamations such as "God" or "Jesus Christ" etc. I try to temper that usage on the page because I know we have Christian members who dislike it, although one or two might sneak through now and then when I'm especially stressed.

In a way this goes back to the immune swear words of earlier, just as I will happily use darn and heck, I must admit I also use variations of damn and hell. I'll try not to if I know people would be offended, but I personally feel ok in using them, I don't consider them profane... but of course some people might.

I suppose really the only answer I can come up with, my personal feelings on the matter, are that we certainly shouldn't allow hard swearing on the page, F-words, "poop", definately not the C-Word. But in my mind the immune swear words are ok.

I don't mind a heck, a darn, a fudge, as long as they aren't overused... The official age of Facebook is 13, if a kid hasn't heard a darn or heck by then he or she's probably somewhere that doesn't allow the internet anyway.

It's also about respecting others, as with the blaspheming. I will go out of my way to try and temper language I know would offend, and I would like that to be a general feeling on the whole page.

That's my rambling thoughts anyway, I'd be interested in your views on the matter.

[Today's free animal for reading the entire post is an invisible chinchilla. Called Boris. Enjoy!]


  1. I think your article was frakking brilliant.

  2. Boris smells of sh....Sugar.

  3. I feel almost exactly the same way - plus my points:

    Why go out of the way and write the actual curse work? It truly surprises me that some don't have the control to not throw an f-bomb out there, forgetting they may have teens following their page, etc..., just write the first letter or the alternative cuss-version, if you must.

    A curse word is a curse word, no matter the smell, LOL

    I curse at home, I do NOT curse online, but I have a list of written alternatives so that I will stop, like fudge, bullocks, flip, flop, scat, etc. Those, I don't mind seeing at all. Heck, shoot, fire, those are fine.

    Have a great day!
    ~FrontierDelle Sherer

  4. Whoops, editing, please!
    "...write the actual curse worD" (corrected)

  5. Very interesting post.
    I too smiled at "Fanny Wildcat" sounding like Pussy Wildpussy... ;)
    I swear quite often and quite fluently in French and English, less fluently in other languages, but I don't usually write swear words ("les paroles s'envolent mais les écrits restent" spoken words fly away but written words stay), if I do , I use sh... or f*** sort of things, but rarely in an opening status, thought it might pop up in a wall "conversation".
    I'll go find a cosy spot for invisible Boris on my homestead.
    Have a nice day!

  6. Thanks for Boris he's really cute! I agree 100% with what you've written. I swear a lot especially sitting at home when ftv isn't working, but on the whole in public not, and I don't think it's necessary on here either. Thank you Andy!