The King’s F#!$@ Speech (inc. Poll)

by: hawkgrrrl

April 12, 2011

Many of you will have followed the controversy surrounding the film The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham-Carter.  The Oscar-winning film is about a reluctant future king of England who speaks with a stutter, a major difficulty for someone whose main duty is speech-making.  What is unusual about this ratings controversy is just how square the movie is.

In many Anglo countries where MPAA ratings are not the norm, the movie had a 12+ rating (appropriate for children age 12 and above).  Canada gave a 13 rating.  In the country where I reside, the movie was rated a mere PG, prompting me to go with my 15-year old son thinking the language had been censored before screening in our conservative country.  However, that was not the case; the language was intact, but just deemed irrelevant to the ratings process here which mostly considers moral issues (not arbitrary things like smoking and profanity and not driving a Prius) in assigning restricted ratings.  The offending language occurs in the movie when the otherwise uptight and repressed future king finally breaks through his own wall and utters a sequence of random profane words in a burst of frustration at the urging of his speech therapist.  The irony is that I’ve heard much worse language standing in the average movie ticket line.

Hollywood can be very funny about their artistic integrity and not being willing to make changes to enable a wider audience to enjoy their work if they feel it will alter the vision of the director.  Actor Colin Firth was opposed to the movie altering the scene which he considered to be the pivotal point in his character’s story arc:  “I don’t support it. I think the film has integrity as it stands. I think that scene belongs where it is. I think it serves a purpose.”   John Serba, a Michigan movie critic, said:  “For the benefit of a teensy portion of the population, the artistic vision of director Tom Hooper is compromised …” Roger Ebert tweeted (ironically censoring himself), “Today is the last day you can see ‘The King’s Speech’ with the F word. F**k!”

Mormons too can be very funny about R-rated movies, sometimes letting the MPAA do our thinking for us.  Now that I live in a country where there is no R-rating, there’s no readily available shortcut for assessing the appropriateness of a movie.  TV shows like Glee and Gossip Girl carry a 16+ rating while the uncut King’s speech carries a PG.  Some Mormons clearly do take the time to consider content, though.  I’ve heard members mention two other R-rated films in either testimonies or talks during sacrament meeting:  The Passion of the Christ and The Shawshank Redemption.  Both these films are highly uplifting important films, the former achieving the R-rating for its accurately graphic portrayal of crucifixion, and the latter for language and prison violence.  To put them in the same category with Saw V (a slasher film) and Party Animalzz (a gross out sex comedy about bestiality) seems pretty ridiculous.

OK, time for you the reader to weigh in on how you make decisions about which movies to see.

Based on MPAA ratings alone, here's my stance on what movies I see:

  • I base my decisions by investigating content and making a decision based on what I think is appropriate. (89%, 144 Votes)
  • I never see R-rated movies or PG-13 movies that might have objectionable content. (4%, 7 Votes)
  • I don't go to movies. (4%, 6 Votes)
  • I never see R-rated movies, but PG-13 and below are fine. (3%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 161

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I would probably not see a movie if it included the following (choose all that apply):

  • sexually explicit content (74%, 86 Votes)
  • graphic violence (59%, 68 Votes)
  • non-sexual full nudity (26%, 30 Votes)
  • any R-rating (8%, 9 Votes)
  • non-sexual partial nudity (8%, 9 Votes)
  • profanity (7%, 8 Votes)
  • drug use (3%, 4 Votes)
  • mature themes (2%, 2 Votes)
  • smoking (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 116

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Discuss – and please, watch your language!

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42 Responses to The King’s F#!$@ Speech (inc. Poll)

  1. Dan on April 12, 2011 at 5:33 AM

    You need to include in the poll an option for those who don’t give a damn about the rating and choose movies based on whether or not they’re any good.

    Gossip Girl definitely deserves the 16+ rating in whichever country you currently reside. It is a naughty show.

    127 Hours was talked about in conference, too. :)

    And yes, our rating system in this country sucketh…

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  2. Frecklefoot on April 12, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    I generally shy away from R-rated movies, but if I hear a lot of good things about one, I check out http://www.kids-in-mind.com/, which tells you EXACTLY what is in a movie, right down to the number of f-bombs it uses. So it tells you if a movie is rated “R” for graphic sex or graphic violence. Oh the marvels of technology… Much better than the MPAA ratings in my book.

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  3. Joshua Whelpley on April 12, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    I do not understand freak outs based on language. Words are not good or bad intrinsically. In no way should the King’s Speech have a strong rating. There is no sex. There is no violence.

    I do not care for the word profanity. Ugh. If f.u.c.k. is bad because of what we apply to it then fetch is bad too. Fetch is simply replacing one word for another. If the entire country knew and used fetch then it would be just as bad as the “f” word. I hate even using that phrase. The “f” word.

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  4. Dan on April 12, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    I agree with Joshua.

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  5. Kari on April 12, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    I have to agree with Joshua, in that words have no intrinsic value. It’s how they’re used. As an expletive, the F-word just isn’t a big deal to me. As a graphic term for intercourse, it often makes the discussion coarse, which I don’t like.

    I am finally getting around to watching BSG on Netflix. At first “frack” and all its derivatives were funny, but now I just hear it as the f-word anyway, since it is an obvious substitution.

    Another great movie that got an “R” rating purely for its repetitive use of the F-word was Moon. A must see. We saw it in the theater and took our kids (ages 15 an 13) back to see it with us. And I’d have no problem letting my kids see The King’s Speech. As my kids point out to me (often!) they hear worse speech every day at school.

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  6. Allison on April 12, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    It’s really interesting that you posted about this today because this is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. I went for several years restricting myself to only PG-13 and below before I started dating my now-husband, and most of his favorite movies have an R rating, so I started watching rated R movies, thinking to myself, “well, I’m a grown up now, I can watch whatever I want.”

    But lately I’m feeling that I don’t want to be watching just anything. I need to find that middle ground where I start thinking about the content of a movie before I go instead of just mindlessly cutting out rated R movies altogether or going the opposite way and watching everything out there. This weekend we went to a movie and afterwards I really realized I just wasn’t comfortable with the humor it portrayed so it’s time to start drawing some personal lines.

    Anyway, I just think that like most things, these decisions are pretty personal and individual to each person.

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  7. Dan on April 12, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    btw, I recommend a wikipedia page called “List of films that most frequently use the word f***”. I would link to it, but my guess is that because the f word would be in the hyperlink, the comment would go to spam. :)

    fascinating to see which movies have the most f words.

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  8. Mike S on April 12, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    I see movies based on if I think they are going to be good. “King’s Speech” was an amazing movie with a positive message and I would have absolutely no issue with taking my kids to it. I just don’t know that it is entertaining enough to keep them occupied. And it is certainly better than many of the useless PG-13 movies out there.

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  9. Mike S on April 12, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    The fact that a “rating” given by the MPAA is even a topic for discussion is symptomatic of a bigger issue in the Church – that of conflating a Church leader’s personal opinion with actual Church doctrine.

    It happened with R-rated movies. It happened with numbers of earrings for women. It happened with 2-piece bathing suits. It happened with beards. It happened with white vs wheat bread. It happened with Coke. It happens over and over and over.

    At the end of the day, these are all personal opinions and are between a person an God. Unfortunately, we tend to judge each other unnecessarily if someone “breaks” one of these “not-commandments”.

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  10. hawkgrrrl on April 12, 2011 at 8:27 AM

    Kari – you are going to love BSG! I am jealous you are getting to experience it for the first time.

    Mike S – wait, what’s this about 2 piece swimsuits and white vs. wheat bread??

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  11. Mike S on April 12, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    The majority of people I know along the Wasatch Front frown on “2-piece swimsuits”. They are banned at youth conferences and Girls camp. I’m not sure exactly where it came from. And it’s purely an opinion thing, as 50-100 years ago swimsuits came down to the wrists and ankles, so they would consider ALL of our swimsuits today risqué.

    Also, in the past, there have been Church leaders who taught that white bread was against the Word of Wisdom. This one has been debunked.

    Around the turn of the century (around 1900), Church leaders also spoke out against the “waltz” as being a dance that encouraged immorality.

    Our history is full of things where opinions are presented as official policy/doctrine. The rated “R” issue is just another one.

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  12. NoCoolName_Tom on April 12, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Dan,
    Here you go: http://goo.gl/KDVHZ (Wikipedia – “List of films that most frequently use the word ‘f***'”)

    Warning, the f-word is what this page is all about (there are 19 occurences), so if you don’t like seeing it I wouldn’t recommend you click on it.

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  13. hawkgrrrl on April 12, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Mike S – That white bread thing zigged when I thought it was going to zag. I thought you were going to say someone banned using wheat bread in the sacrament, insisting that Jesus could only be represented by white bread. Now where would I have gotten that notion?

    I’ve said it elsewhere, the words we consider swear words are only such thanks to the Norman conquest, which is why the flowery Latin version “fornication” is considered genteel, but its straightforward German equivalent is considered vulgar.

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  14. Dan on April 12, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Tom,

    Thanks, I hadn’t thought of the tiny URLs, which obviously would not have the f word in them. :)

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  15. Jorjaswtgja on April 12, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    I thought it was hilarious that 127 Hours got a conference mentioneven thoughthe movie had a masturbation scene in it. LOL.

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  16. Joshua on April 12, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    I don’t know if he was referencing the movie or simply the story.

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  17. gfe on April 12, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    “The King’s Speech” was a great movie, and I would have been fine with my kids seeing it (but it isn’t exactly the kind of film that appeals to most teens).

    I have to laugh a bit about the controversy over “censoring” the movie to get the PG-13 rating, though. Movies are “censored” all the time — movie producers routinely adjust language and other factors to get a particular rating, and if “The King’s Speech” had originally been PG-13 (or even, with some creativity, G), nobody would have said, “That film really needs the f-word to be authentic!”

    Overall, I thought “The King’s Speech” portrayed positive values, and I’d say the same about “127 Hours,” which I saw with one of my teenagers. The same can’t be said of many, many PG-13 films, which often glamorize all sorts of unsavory activities.

    And I have to agree with what Kari said about BSG — at my main job (I’m a journalist), it seems downright strange to be writing about “fracking” (a process for extracting hard-to-get oil), which isn’t its meaning on the TV show.

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  18. Jeff Spector on April 12, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    You can go to McDonald’s after school and hear about as many F-words as the King’s Speech.

    I am not in favor of crude language, because it lacks any sense of creativity and basically is a dumbing down of the language. Having said that, I’ve also hit my finger with a hammer and stubbed my toe.

    The US rating system like everything in this country has political and financial aspects to it. If a director is in danger of receiving an NC-17 rating, he or she will change the film to avoid it in spite of their “holier than thou” artistic integrity.

    The film community knows that “R” sell better than “G” or “PG.”

    I imagine members outside of the US must wonder what GAs are talking about when they say, stay away from R movies. Is that movies that start wit hthe letter “R”, end in “R?”

    Movies and TV shows in Europe are rated by age.

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  19. Latter-day Guy on April 12, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Kari – you are going to love BSG! I am jealous you are getting to experience it for the first time.

    Yeah, until the finale which was a huge frackin’ disappointment.

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  20. Paul on April 12, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    When I was younger, Ordinary People was the R-rated film that Mormons should see. And it had just one (I think) use of that word. We’ve watched it with our kids more than once.

    Still, since my perma-date (my lovely wife) doesn’t want to hear that word, we haven’t seen The Kings Speech, yet. And since I love my wife more than any artistic exercise, that’s ok for me.

    Frankly, as movies go, I struggle with PG/PG13 movies that deal more glibly with topics of sex than their R-rated counterparts; hence the need to read reviews, be informed and make choices that suit my standards.

    Mike S, you’ll notice that there is far less talk in the church about R-ratings being the standard, since that rating is not global (as HG points out) and since it doesn’t mean what it once did. Still, it’s not a bad quick measuring stick for parents of 15-year olds. (Not the only one, either.)

    Dan, I think Elder Oaks could have been referring to the book on which the movie you cite was based. He did not mention the film, nor should his talk be seen as endorsement of it.

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  21. Rigel Hawthorne on April 12, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    Am I getting old, or are there not really that many movies worth going to see these days? I think members can sensibly choose R rated movies to watch if they have a big interest in the subject or book that the movie was made from. I watched September Dawn (from Netflix) out of pure curiosity after the horrible reviews. I do like my life better after breaking the youthful tendency to see every popular R rated movie that came out. With a home tv that is not connected to cable or satelite, our kids get to request movies from Netflix and it has worked out well so far…of course, no teenagers in the home yet. I would like to have the option to rent movies form Cleanflix, if it was still in existence. It irks me that the networks can censor language/scenes from movies they show but we cannot take the actions needed to do this for individual viewings on our own timetable.

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  22. David on April 12, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    “Mike S, you’ll notice that there is far less talk in the church about R-ratings being the standard, since that rating is not global (as HG points out) and since it doesn’t mean what it once did. Still, it’s not a bad quick measuring stick for parents of 15-year olds. (Not the only one, either.)”

    Or, they don’t talk about it as much because it’s become the standard rule by which American members judge their movies by. That’s my experience talking with other members and my family.

    @ #15

    “I thought it was hilarious that 127 Hours got a conference mentioneven thoughthe movie had a masturbation scene in it. LOL.”

    That was hardly the scene. Seriously, I had read that before watching the movie and there was absolutely nothing going on there. Heck, I’d say some of the dude’s hallucination portrayals were 10x worse than that scene. And, to be fair, I have seen PG-13 movies that were way, way worse.

    As for me, my vote on best R-rated movie: The Last Samurai.

    Mike S:

    Let’s face it, religious individuals have opinions about lots of stuff. And, with religious individuals, they generally think that their opinions are divinely inspired and, as such, they opine when given the opportunity. The problem I see is that far too many members simply don’t know how to differentiate between an “opinion” and the Lord’s will because the two have become so grossly conflated as to defy my logic.

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  23. salt h2o on April 12, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Ah, the R-rated movie debate which boils down to:

    Are you a letter of the law (Won’t watch Glory but saw all the Austin Power Films) or a spirit of the law (Won’t watch Glee, but watched Schindler’s List) or a letter of the law & the spirit of the law (won’t watch anything)person?

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  24. Jakob J on April 12, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    I tried to answer the second poll question but it won’t take an answer where nothing is marked.

    For anyone who can’t tell the difference between the f word and fetch, please consider a introductory linguistics course. Actually, scratch that, I can sum it up for you: the meaning of a word derives from the way that word is understood by the audience in which it is being used. If one word is understood to be offensive and vulgar while another (seemingly similar) word is not, then, by definition, it is offensive and vulgar while the other is not.

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  25. Kari on April 12, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Except, salt h20, there is no “law” in the LDS church of which I am aware that deals with R-rated movies.

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  26. Jacob M on April 12, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    “As for me, my vote on best R-rated movie: The Last Samurai.”

    Nonsense. Braveheart all the way!

    Anyway, saw “The King’s Speech” and really liked it, particularly that scene as it is a funny turning point for the future king.

    I have no particular rule about what I will or will not see in a movie. I like to say things like, “Oh! I won’t watch a movie with graphic sex”, then I’ll turn around and watch “Watchmen” or “Black Swan”. Sometimes it’ll be “I won’t watch movie with foul language”, then watch “The Departed” or something along those lines. I rarely am concerned about violence, probably since I was practically raised by the old Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwartzenegger action movies of the 80’s. I don’t really know where that leaves me in the grand scheme of things.

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  27. Kari on April 12, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Jakob J,

    So is the determination of “offensive and vulgar” the meaning of the word, or simply that the word is, by itself and devoid of meaning, offensive and vulgar?

    As I mentioned previously, in BSG there is no use of “f**k”, as it has been substituted with “frack”. In one scene I just saw yesterday one character calls the other a “mother fracker.”

    Should I be offended, because the meaning is clearly to directly accuse one of having sexual relations with the woman who gave him birth, or is this not offensive because the term used was not “mother f**ker”?

    Is the word “f**k” offensive and vulgar when used as a non-sexual expletive (as I am wont to yell when I hit my thumb with a hammer), or is it offensive in all contexts? Is it not offensive when used by teens and only when teens hear it, and then becomes offensive when heard by adults?

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  28. Rebecca J on April 12, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    I wish the MPAA would scrap the current rating system and make up a new one–not necessarily a better one; in fact it could be a worse one, but just use different letters. Then this wouldn’t be an issue anymore.

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  29. Alice on April 12, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    I like the kids in mind website too. The best thing is seeing how many “scatalogical terms” a movie contains. That always cracks me up.

    I have a higher tolerance for swear words than sex or violence in movies. My mister isn’t bothered as much by violence, so when we watch Lord of the Rings, I close my eyes a lot. :)

    We’re going to watch The King’s Speech, as soon as it comes out on netflix. I can’t wait. I love Colin Firth.

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  30. jks on April 12, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    I couldn’t answer either question. I wish I had a line, but I don’t because my husband doesn’t. I try really hard to have lines for the kids and I win some and lose some. I use kids-in-mind.
    I use the remote on a lot of TV stuff or netflix/DVDs.

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  31. Jakob J on April 12, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    Kari,

    My point is that words have both a denotative and connotative meaning. Comments like #3 and your #27 seem to focus on the denotative meaning without realizing that it is the connotative meaning of the word that is important to this discussion. So, for example, f*** and screw can be used interchangeably in some sentences (have the same denotative meaning in those sentences) but they don’t have the same connotative meaning because f*** is understood to be harsher, more vulgar, and more offensive. That understanding is part of the meaning of the word.

    With words, context is everything, including the context of the people listening to what is being said. So, for example, I worked at a construction site at one point in my life where f*** was not considered to be offensive but just a filler word like “um”. In the confined context of that site, it had a different connotative meaning than if the same person stood up and used that word in testimony meeting.

    You might be offended by the word frack, but because we are products of our culture, it is nearly impossible for the word frack to have the same impact on you as if they said f***. Words in combination take on different connotative meaning (again, context is everything) which leads to the somewhat comical situation on television where someone calls someone else an a$$ hole and network television will bleep the word “hole” (you can say a$$ but not “a$$ hole” on television). So mother fracker is probably more offensive than frack, sure.

    All I ask is that everyone understand and respect the difference between denotative meaning and connotative meaning.

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  32. hawkgrrrl on April 12, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    I have to agree that the BSG ending was a disappointment but there was so much good stuff throughout . . . Also, while the word “frak” is the norm, there is a scene where the chain-smoking Doctor Cottle uses the real thing, I think accidentally. You’ll have to listen for it. I don’t remember which epi.

    To me the key is more about whether a movie is good than other considerations. I pay attention to the critics. I don’t like gratuitous sex, violence or even swearing, but if it feels integral to the story and the story is worthwhile I don’t find it offensive.

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  33. Kari on April 12, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Jakob J,

    For the record, I’m not offended by the word frack, or f**k for that matter. And I think the split between denotative and connotative meanings is semantics, and really only of interest and importance to linguists.

    The average person on the street will have no idea as to the denotative or connotative meaning of f**k. And the example you give of a construction site versus F&T meeting confuses the point. The same sentence containing the word f**k spoken at a construction site or in a church, will have the same connotative meaning.

    What it really appears you are saying, and I may misunderstand, is that the only importance as to offensiveness and vulgarity is the audience and setting.

    If I’ve misunderstood, then I hope you could share some more examples. As I understand “denotative” and “connotative” there really is no difference between the phrase “mother fracker” and “mother f**ker”, other than the fact that society as identified the word f**k and its derivatives as offensive and vulgar.

    btw, you can say asshole on television. I heard it just recently.

    (As an aside, have the admins here given thought to making the comment box bigger and add a preview function? This damn box is just too small.)

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  34. Homer on April 12, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    Can someone inform us frackers what “BSG” stands for, exactly?

    A good friend of mine recently had the following to say about swear words, and I quite agree:

    “What is a “swear word”? Is it a word that has a negative meaning? No. A swear word is not a word that has a negative meaning because each swearword has a corresponding word that means the same thing but is not considered offensive. For example, describing sexual relations, if I were to say “When I was married I F****D my wife for the first time” it would be considered immensely crude, even to the point that I am sure that some of you cringed even with the asterisks inserted. However, were I to say “When I was married I had sexual relations with my wife for the first time” it would not be considered crude at all, but truthful.

    This is strange is it not? We have two words that mean essentially the exact same thing, yet one is quite possibly the “dirtiest” word in existence and the other word/phrase, which means the exact same thing, is quite appropriate when used in the proper connotation.

    This is silly is it not? We mean the same thing when we interchange those words, why is it that one is so offensive and one is considered “proper”?

    The reason Jeanene is because society has conditioned you to cringe at the use of the F-word but not at the use of the other. That is it! That is the only reason why your spirit “shrinks” from “excessive cursing”. It is conditioning, not unlike Pavlov’s dog, who was conditioned to salivate whenever a bell was rang.”

    our reactions to actions [and words] are commonly psychologically induced, but the main purpose to bringing that to light was to teach that once we understand that we are free to create whatever reaction we wish in most situations and this is the point when freedom and love can truly exist unconditionally. … Meanings carry energy naturally. Words only carry energy artificially because we allow them to. My entire point regarding profanity is to say “stop allowing societal words to influence your spirit”.

    “I’m sure most of
    you have experienced the negative effects of people swearing at you even though
    you didn’t understand the language. ”

    Sure, but what if some foreigners are just joking with you and say a couple of swear words in their language but they are laughing and smiling when they do. Would you feel the “negative effect” then? No. Because you don’t understand that language so you have not been conditioned psychologically to have a negative response to hearing the words.

    If I swear in French, it literally means nothing to me. I understand what it means – by its definition – but I feel nothing. I have no emotion connected to it.

    So with that, and in the context of this conversation, va te faire. ;)

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  35. Jakob J on April 12, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Kari, the average person on the street may not be familiar with the terminology, but denotative/connotative are simply words describing the way language works. If they were truly oblivious to the difference between denotative and connotative meaning they would be incapable of normal adult communication (worse than Amelia Bedelia).

    There are obviously many factors that determine the meaning of a word, the lexical context, the setting, the listeners, and on and on. When people say two words are essentially equivalent because they both refer to the same thing alarm bells go off in my brain because language is much more complicated than that.

    I’m not trying to pretend to be a linguist (IANAL), but I’m re-reading the questions you wrote in #27 and I guess I don’t understand what you were asking since my response appears to be way off the mark.

    BTW, were you watching cable or network television? The rule could have changed, but I thought network prime time still banned asshole. At any rate, there was a time when what I said was true.

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  36. Jakob J on April 12, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    BSG = Battlestar Galactica

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  37. Kari on April 12, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    Jakob J,

    It was actually “Harry’s Law” on NBC. Kathy Bates’ character uses the word.

    I guess my question is, “If two words are essentially the same in content and meaning (i.e. frack and f**k), why do we consider one vulgar and offensive, and the other not at all?”

    I appreciate Homer’s response and agree that a lot of this is simple conditioning. It’s why “bollocks” and “sod me” in Notting Hill mean nothing to my spouse, but having served my mission there I know exactly the sentiment intended.

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  38. CRW on April 13, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    Back to the specifics of “The King’s Speech”:

    As I understand it, the neuronal circuitry involved in swearing is different from regular non-swearing speech. As is singing. That is why the King is able to sing (or swear) his way out of a vocal block. The same thing can happen after a stroke–a person may not be able to speak, but may still be able to sing and/or swear.

    I thought the swearing was a very interesting part of the therapy–not just an expression of frustration, but an actual therapeutic technique.

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  39. hawkgrrrl on April 13, 2011 at 5:01 AM

    CRW – that is an interesting point about the swearing. My great grandfather who was a doctor had a stroke when he was older and the only word he could say for the rest of his life was “sh*t,” which was very frustrating for such an educated man.

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  40. Jakob J on April 13, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Well, just because one is much more offensive I wouldn’t say the other is “not at all.” It is simply less offensive.

    As you say, this is due to simple conditioning. I agree with your answer to your own question. In a real sense every word means what it does due to simple conditioning, so the connotations of a word are no less real than the denotations.

    I think we certainly need words of varying degrees of impact, different levels of vulgarity and offensiveness. They exist because they play an important role in communication. It strikes me as odd when someone bemoans the existence of swear words, or that we have words that are functionally equivalent but with varying levels of vulgarity (not accusing you of bemoaning this).

    hawkgrrrl, that story about your great grandfather is terrible.

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  41. dmac on April 14, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    I think the use of expletive’s and the ‘F Bomb’ has become so common place that the impact has completely worn off on me. I barely notice it these days. Even on TV. Here in Oz they can broadcast it after 9.00 PM on network TV. I barely blink honestly.

    For me its more about intent and tone when people swear. If its used to underscore a point I don’t really care. If its used as an insult or a verbal attack that’s a whole other thing.

    And as a footnote, I loved BSG. I also thought the use of ‘frack’ was pretty clever. But I agree the end left me a little flat. Still, I went out and bought the box set regardless. Great show.

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  42. Geoff-A on April 14, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    I find these words that sound very similar to swear words equivalent to swear words. I served my mission in Ireland in the late 60s. The equivalent word the missionaries used then was “friggin” I think (it was a long time ago). My point is that I doubt if any local person hearing that word didn’t assume it was f**king. And if anyone used fark in my presence I would assume they were using the real word and had an accent.

    It would be good if we could use words that mean something, and not swear words.

    Do you get “top gear” an english motoring/comedy show. Jeremy often, as an expletive says cock, and no one seems to have a problem. In the same category as bollocks. This shows at 7.30 PM in my part of the world

    I was amazed while in America to hear High Priests, before the meeting started, discussing “cage fighting” thy had both seen – I would have thought that was a totally unchristlike activity.

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