View Full Version : unintentionally offensive SLANG?

10-07-2009, 03:55 AM
"what a bangin' dinner"

"fuck this"

"this sucks"

are three examples of slang that have offensive connotations (incidentally two have sexual connotations). Any reason they're so acceptable? Any other examples? Deconstruct them. Analyze their usage and effects. How much can possibly be literal or intentional? What are the consequences of this language? Any? What can't I publish a scholarly journal with slang in it? Why are some words OK and not others? Taboos?



10-07-2009, 04:39 AM
Heck, I publish scholarly articles with slang in 'em. Also entries and citations for the OED.

I've got 2500 words on fuck--and two previously unknown attestations!

I note in passing that I have to control my impulse to edit thread titles with even "masked" vulgarities, or curses, or things like "Jesus."

They don't bother me--but I do know a lot of people who are bothered by them.

Ruv Draba
10-07-2009, 02:06 PM
Early in my (now largely defunct) science career I was lambasted by reviewers for using idiom (not profanity, just idiom) in a scientific paper. Even today I don't believe that the idiom I used detracted from the science, but with the benefit of hindarsesight I think it comes down to this:

In some contexts certain emotions are expected; others are taboo. Laughing at a funeral; Lusting at a baptism; Revulsion at a wedding; Irreverence in science.

Posture matters on formal occasions; candour and sincerity don't. That's pretty much a definition of what formality means. Formality means sacred; sacred means taboo.

Which is not to say that we don't experience those things at times considered inappropriate; we're just forbidden from expressing them publicly.

I have quietly giggled at certain points in a funeral -- including a funeral of someone I've loved, and cocked an eyebrow at weddings -- and kept knowledge of this fact confined just to myself and my wife. I'm generally irreverent of science while at the same time taking it seriously. I can't say that I've lusted at a baptism (as an atheist I seldom attend), but it's not impossible that if I attended often enough, I would. New mothers are sexy creatures in every species.

It's well established that taboo words create a euphemism treadmill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism#The_.22euphemism_treadmill.22). We can sometimes express a taboo emotion in a formal circumstance if we use approved language. Perhaps people recognise that the emotion, while taboo, needs to be expressed.

Perhaps we need formality -- or at least some of us do. Sometimes the emotional needs of others are more important than our own. I can giggle while grieving -- perhaps everyone can; but giggling while another is grieving and remaining sympathetic requires an intimacy that we don't always have.

Should we take it seriously? I don't know whether we should, but I do know that I intrinsically can't. The best I can do is fake it out of compassion for others, and not always that.

Elias Graves
12-12-2009, 05:38 PM
All three are sexually based.
I'm not certain that any of those three expressions are welcome at my dinner table and I would not consider any of them "unintentionally" offensive.
While drinking whiskey with my friends all three phrases will be used freely.
Like everything else, they have a time and place.