Friday, February 10, 2006

Why Swearing is a Load of Cobblers

If you've ever set up one of the many free message boards on the web, you'll notice that they come with a sophisticated language filtering system. If your post contains the word "fuck" for instance, the computer will either edit your post or delete it. Naturally, the administrator is free to disable this facility as he or she sees fit.

What I find laughable is how this "sophisticated" filtering system only filters words that have been designated vulgar. The computer doesn't recognise local slangs and expletives. So as a Brit I can write "tosser" and the computer will allow this word through as it is not one that is universally recognised as vulgar.

This shows that what we consider to be offensive is ethnocentric. We are making up the rules of conduct according to our beliefs.

A: Fuck off!
B: Stop swearing!
A: Why, does my choice of words offend you?
B: Yes.
A: Merde!
B: What?
A: You don't know what "merde" means, do you?
B: Nope.
A: You're not bothered, are you?
B: No, why should I?
A: I rest my case.


Related article: It is Not What You Say but What I Believe You are Saying