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Thread: New study on swearing in YA

  1. #1
    Twitchy Niiicola's Avatar
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    New study on swearing in YA

    Just saw this article about a recent study at BYU that examines bad language in YA books.

    Profanity in teen novels varies greatly from book to book, but characters that do use foul language tend to also be the most popular, attractive and rich, according to new research published in the journal Mass Communication and Society.

    Sarah Coyne, professor in the department of family life at Brigham Young University, analyzed the use of profanity in 40 young adult books on the adolescent bestsellers list.

    Thirty-five out of the 40 books had at least one swear word. She found that YA novels contained on average 38 instances of bad language, but one book had nearly 500 instances of swearing.

    Of note, the characters that were doing the swearing tended to be of higher social status, better looking and have more money than their non-swearing counterparts.
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/swearin...9#.T7aKUVI8CSo

    Kind of amused by this because I recently managed to inadvertently teach my two-year-old the F word. So I guess she's way ahead of the curve and won't need no stinking books to learn swears when she's a teen.

    But in all honesty, your thoughts?

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW
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    What does she mean by swearing?

    I mean some people consider 'Oh my gosh' swearing it it doesn't even use the word god.

    One thing I hate when studies from universities like this are reported in the media is that, they report the data as fact and the articles around them are always vague over the methods used and what they are referring too.

  3. #3
    Indecisive Noodle KateSmash's Avatar
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    Considering this comes out of BYU (and "family life" at that. Please, try and convince me she doesn't have an agenda here), this wasn't done by a statistics department, AND she only had a sample size of 40 books ...

    Bullshit. Horse shit. And donkey shit.

    Pardon my French.

  4. #4
    Twitchy Niiicola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KateSmash View Post
    Considering this comes out of BYU (and "family life" at that. Please, try and convince me she doesn't have an agenda here), this wasn't done by a statistics department, AND she only had a sample size of 40 books ...

    Bullshit. Horse shit. And donkey shit.

    Pardon my French.
    Totally agree. But it's getting picked up in the media, which is interesting. And there was a big debate in the opinions section of the WSJ about whether YA themes were too dark. All very fascinating.

    ETA: Apparently that WSJ thing was last year. But still, I'm interested to see if anything comes of this.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niiicola View Post
    Totally agree. But it's getting picked up in the media, which is interesting. And there was a big debate in the opinions section of the WSJ about whether YA themes were too dark. All very fascinating.
    I heard this study, this morning from The Wright Stuff (UK newspaper/magazine debate show) and I searched for it and at that time at about 9am the only people reporting this study were the Daily Mail. They always seem to be first to report on these type of studies.

  6. #6
    Indecisive Noodle KateSmash's Avatar
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    I know. I saw it on several different sites in the last hour. The media just likes to pick on us (as in YA) for the same reason they like to pick on music, video games and TV. It's easier than examining the parents and schools and society as a whole.

    As long as YA remains as prominent as it is now, someone's pointing fingers at it. But whatever. Teens will see these stories and find a way to buy these "forbidden/naughty/salacious/violent/sexy" books. And most sane adults will shrug and not pay attention to the noise.

    As an aside, I knew all my favorite swears by the time I was 7. *cough* My parents didn't believe in censoring their language (or my reading or much of anything (except maybe movies)) around me. (But they did make sure I didn't go repeating it in public.)

  7. #7
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    Ok I just researched Brigham Young University:

    Brigham Young University (often referred to as BYU, or sometimes just the Y) is a private university located in Provo, Utah. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and is the United States' largest religious university and third-largest private university.[6][7]

    Approximately 98% of the university's 34,000 students are members of the LDS Church, and one-third of its American students come from within the state of Utah.[8] BYU students are required to follow an honor code, which mandates behavior in line with LDS teachings (e.g., academic honesty, adherence to dress and grooming standards, and abstinence from extramarital sex and from the consumption of drugs and alcohol).[9] Many students (78% of men, 10% of women) take a two-year hiatus from their studies at some point to serve as Mormon missionaries.[10][11] Many BYU students speak foreign languages during their Mormon missions, and approximately 31% of the student body enroll in foreign language courses, making it one of the most multilingual student bodies in the United States.[12] A BYU education is also less expensive than at similar private universities[13] since approximately 70% of tuition is funded by LDS Church tithing funds.[14]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigham_Young_University
    They definitely have an agenda. And if you search the university name with Daily Mail:

    No wonder Daily Mail loves reporting on this university.

  8. #8
    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    Whenever I think of BYU, I think of this story: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=19248440

    If you don't feel like clicking through, they have dress code that requires modest clothing. The female student received a note (from a fellow student) about her clothing's "negative effects on men" because...well I don't really know why, she's covered everywhere but her neck and wrists lol.

    Ridiculous.

    Anyway, yeah fuck that school.

  9. #9
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    It's reputation is conservative, but it's still the school that put this out for it's gay students: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym0jXg-hKCI
    addressing the perception of the school vs. the reality of the students.

  10. #10
    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    It wasn't technically the school that put it out. It was a group of LGBT students. Same sex relations are still against the honor code. And from what I've read they only recently began letting non-hetero students enroll in the first place.

    Dunno why anyone would want to be in a creepy cult that encourages people to try and pray away the gay~

  11. #11
    Twitchy Niiicola's Avatar
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    I'm not meaning to attack BYU specifically. I'm sure there are plenty of non-Mormons who agree with the language stuff.

    I have to say though, I don't think it hurts anybody's sales to get put on a list of bad books like this.

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    practical experience, FTW breaking_burgundy's Avatar
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    Am I the only one who's mildly annoyed that someone was getting paid to scour the YA shelf for "bad words"?

  13. #13
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    I wonder if they just picked the top 40 bestsellers? if so, did they pick Twilight in their analysis (really doubt it as Stephenie Meyer graduated from BYU in 1997)?

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW Stiger05's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KateSmash View Post
    Teens will see these stories and find a way to buy these "forbidden/naughty/salacious/violent/sexy" books. And most sane adults will shrug and not pay attention to the noise.
    Exactly. I started reading Stephen King in the 6th grade and that's way worse swearing wise and way darker content wise and way more graphic sexually than any YA book I've read. I remember reading "Flowers in the Attic" around then too, talk about twisted. My parents generally didn't care what I read. The didn't let me pick up Cosmo, but had no problem with books, go figure.

    Anyway, if teens didn't find what they wanted to read in the YA section, they'd just buy from the adult section. It's not like there are age restrictions on books. (And I hope there never are).
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  15. #15
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stiger05 View Post

    Anyway, if teens didn't find what they wanted to read in the YA section, they'd just buy from the adult section. It's not like there are age restrictions on books. (And I hope there never are).

    Depends on the book and the venue. There are stores / librarians who will censor a reader's choices based on what they're willing to allow said reader to read. I know there've been stories here on AW of people who had librarians refuse to allow the check out certain material without a parent's consent.

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW Stiger05's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    Depends on the book and the venue. There are stores / librarians who will censor a reader's choices based on what they're willing to allow said reader to read. I know there've been stories here on AW of people who had librarians refuse to allow the check out certain material without a parent's consent.

    Really? Wow. That's ridiculous. It wasn't that long ago (in the mid 90s) I was in middle school buying and checking out whatever the hell I wanted.

    At the very least I would plop down in the store or library and read it right there and no one ever tried to stop me.
    "There is no, life I know, to compare with pure imagination, living there, you'll be free, if you truly wish to be." -Willy Wonka

    DEVILS WITHIN, my YA dark contemporary debut, out now from Sky Pony Press wherever books are sold.

    (Psst, you can add it on Goodreads)

    Oh, and I review publishing contracts too. Check out Anchor & Quill for a legal review before you sign!

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  17. #17
    Honest, not Harsh Ashes Oh Ashes's Avatar
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    Not sure why anyone is attacking the school...

    Fourty books isn't a large enough sample size. Too much room for chance there. Not even sure how they're trying to claim that as a legitimate finding with a fourty book sample size.
    I LOVE critiquing YA. Especially Fantasy. If you have a piece you want critiqued, drop me a PM!



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  18. #18
    Twitchy Niiicola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    Depends on the book and the venue. There are stores / librarians who will censor a reader's choices based on what they're willing to allow said reader to read. I know there've been stories here on AW of people who had librarians refuse to allow the check out certain material without a parent's consent.
    Ouch, that's pretty insane. Glad nobody ever censored my reading like that when I was younger. Like Stiger, I was reading all kinds of gory stuff in my middle school years like The Exorcist and The Silence of the Lambs. I turned out mostly OK

    I've been reading a fair few rumblings about people wanting to put ratings on books. Wonder if it'll happen.

  19. #19
    Court Jester Shadow_Ferret's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what the point of this study is. My reaction is a big fucking so what? These people do realize these aren't children's books, right? That the "A" in YA stands for Adult?
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  20. #20
    late to the party ladybritches's Avatar
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    So, wait a minute. Why are we angry? Did anyone actually read the article? I didn't find anything controversial about the 'study'. It says there's a lot of swearing in YA novels. So what? Don't we already know that? They never suggested a ban, so... 'splain to me why we're mad at the Mormons.

  21. #21
    Proud Literary Sadist justbishop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladybritches View Post
    So, wait a minute. Why are we angry? Did anyone actually read the article? I didn't find anything controversial about the 'study'. It says there's a lot of swearing in YA novels. So what? Don't we already know that? They never suggested a ban, so... 'splain to me why we're mad at the Mormons.
    Maybe anger is preemptive, but IME living in the South, the logical end to a study like this, when religious entities are involved, is banning, recommendation against, or frowning upon of some sort.
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  22. #22
    Indecisive Noodle KateSmash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladybritches View Post
    So, wait a minute. Why are we angry? Did anyone actually read the article? I didn't find anything controversial about the 'study'. It says there's a lot of swearing in YA novels. So what? Don't we already know that? They never suggested a ban, so... 'splain to me why we're mad at the Mormons.
    Basically this line ...

    "this is really important because adolescents are more likely to imitate media characters portrayed in positive, desirable ways."
    ... suggests that YA books are glamorizing swearing and teaching teenagers to do it. Because the characters in these 40 (which, have I mentioned, is a horrible sample size?) that curse are the attractive, wealthy, or popular ones. And teens want nothing more () than to be hot, rich, and universally loved.

    As if the 12-18 set aren't learning profanity elsewhere.

  23. #23
    late to the party ladybritches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justbishop View Post
    Maybe anger is preemptive, but IME living in the South, the logical end to a study like this, when religious entities are involved, is banning, recommendation against, or frowning upon of some sort.
    All of which will garner you free publicity. *rushes off to add more swear words to her WIP*

  24. #24
    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladybritches View Post
    So, wait a minute. Why are we angry? Did anyone actually read the article? I didn't find anything controversial about the 'study'. It says there's a lot of swearing in YA novels. So what? Don't we already know that? They never suggested a ban, so... 'splain to me why we're mad at the Mormons.
    My reaction was a pretty big derail as this was an opportunity for me to complain about BYU. something I can do for days on end.

  25. #25
    Proud Literary Sadist justbishop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KateSmash View Post
    Basically this line ...



    ... suggests that YA books are glamorizing swearing and teaching teenagers to do it. Because the characters in these 40 (which, have I mentioned, is a horrible sample size?) that curse are the attractive, wealthy, or popular ones. And teens want nothing more () than to be hot, rich, and universally loved.

    As if the 12-18 set aren't learning profanity elsewhere.
    This also.
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