I recently read a discussion which dealt with the subject is it correct to use offensive language when publishing an article or book? Some seemed to think that if you had to sink to the use of such language the writing was in some way devalued.
Others thought it was of value when it provided authenticity to their characters and situations. They emphasised that publications must reflect the way people talk. Certainly, you can’t watch a film or TV after a certain time, or hear people talk in the street without hearing colourful language.
Take Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Joyce as examples, all these great writers have used what may be classified as extreme language. It was only between 1840 to 1914 that literature could be classified as puritanical, (what could you expect when Victorians insisted on covering table legs, thinking if they were ‘unclothed’ they were indecent).
While we should always respect the sensibilities of others, it would seem unrealistic to object to strong, explosive language in certain situations. This doesn’t mean to say that one has to rely on swear words to convey anger, fear, disgust and other emotions, but surely if appropriate one must take an accurate view of the world.
The floodgates of change were opened when James Joyce published Ulysses, and since then writers have felt free to express in their characters a whole range of language.
I use the ‘F’ word in my book ‘The Rode to Justice’ (John Rode, 1st grade detective, murder stories). The victim had been raped and she is repeating the story of her ordeal to John Rode. Of course she is angry, she has caught Aids as the result of the sex attack, – it would be enough to make anyone swear!
. I do not use swear words in my day-to-day contact
people, but little Josie, my character, uses it. I have said before my characters in my books take over. She said it – not me. I was shocked. I considered backspacing it out, but didn’t. The character had spoken her feelings. Who was I to argue.
Of course, we accept that certain words which were frequently used in the past should not be used today, e.g. the word Nigger, or words that change their meaning, such as the word Gay. The use of the former word was not always considered derogatory. Ninteenth-century English language literature featured the word. Charles Dickens and Mark Twain created characters who used the word as contemporary usage.
When I was younger the word gay meant joyful, happy. Many girl babies would be called Gay. I bet this Christian name is not used since the word has gained another meaning.
I like the way cartoons display offensive or angry words so I’ll end this blog by saying S#*//*#* off! (Signing off)!