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Swear words

graybyrd

This is a personal sore spot with me. If a writer is going to inject cursing into dialogue, don't be cute about it. Example: f•©kup, Bullsh!+!, F•©k you, F•©k you, @$$hole, @$$holes

These substitutions are not clever; they do not disguise the bad, nasty words, nor do they protect the sensitive minds of juvenile readers.

In fact, it puts a spotlight on the word: Hey, look here! I'm a cleverly disguised nasty word!

My suggestion: either let the word roll through like all the others around it, or don't use it!

Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

If a writer is going to inject cursing into dialogue, don't be cute about it.


I agree, if it's appropriate to say Fuck it, then say it, otherwise I don't give a dang how you say it. Let's damn the fake letters to hell and back - leave the symbols for use where they're meant to be.

Crumbly Writer

Part of that might be the FS engine. I don't believe it uses those examples, but it's designed to disguise common curse words, but does so in a way they're still recognizable (the assumption is, you don't post curse words unless you designate the story for older teens, who'd want to understand what was being said). I actually prefer the way the FS engine operates (I forgot to remove a couple entries I forgot about and liked the results).

If an author substitutes words--especially on SOL--then I'd prefer they put a little creativity into it. Hell, study Shakespeare if you need ideas. Either your character curses like a sailor (too common, by half) or they'll go out of their way not to offend those near them).

In the case of one of my upcoming books, it's about a NY Police Detective, so I felt she'd say things like "Damn" and "Shit", but I couldn't picture her saying anything stronger, given her background.

Replies:   graybyrd  graybyrd
Switch Blayde

@graybyrd

It may be to pass the profanity test of software scanning the story.

graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

Part of that might be the FS engine.


I had thought that might be it, but then recalled that similar language in my on-going serial was not affected, including the latest chapter (I very rarely use fuck and I have seen FS change that particular word.) So I had to assume that the author was pre-censoring his content.

it's about a NY Police Detective, so I felt she'd say things like "Damn" and "Shit", but I couldn't picture her saying anything stronger, given her background.


Excellent point! Even among sailors, cops, and soldiers, there's great differences in self-control and use of language. It's wrong to assume that every sailor swears like a sailor (whoever that legendary sailor might be.)

graybyrd
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I'd prefer they put a little creativity into it. Hell, study Shakespeare if you need ideas.


I find this to be a fascinating idea. Although it may not work as a common substitution for an average sailor or soldier (we mostly share a common portfolio of epithets, after all), it would be creatively fun to craft a character, such as a detective or agent who swears profanely and profoundly, with no commonly known curse words! It can be done, and beautifully so ... but it takes skill, time, and a high-level literary vocabulary, I'd think.

Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

with no commonly known curse words!


Oh, smeg it!

demonmaster62

@graybyrd

HEY! I WAS a sailor, and I cussed and do cuss with the best of them. However, I must say that I didn't learn how to cuss by being IN the Navy. Oh No, not at all. I learned from listening to my Step Father, who could string a sentence together with more "Fucks" in it than I've ever heard from anyone before or since, even to this day. It truly is a thing to behold...or hear, as the case may be.

Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

swears like a sailor


I have it on very good authority that a real good sailor can keep his mouth moving while cussing for several minutes without repeating a single swear word - apparently it comes from experience with including overseas cuss words.

Capt Zapp

@graybyrd

a character ... who swears profanely and profoundly, with no commonly known curse words!


That's kind of like a diplomat, right? Someone who can tell you to 'go to hell' in such a way as to have you looking forward to the trip.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Capt Zapp

That's kind of like a diplomat, right? Someone who can tell you to 'go to hell' in such a way as to have you looking forward to the trip.


My favorite description of diplomacy: The art of saying "Nice dogie." while looking for a big stick.

Dicrostonyx

@graybyrd

Even among sailors, cops, and soldiers, there's great differences in self-control and use of language. It's wrong to assume that every sailor swears like a sailor (whoever that legendary sailor might be.)


Part of this is also cultural. Military culture, that is.

I have a friend who was in the Navy for fifteen years, and has been out for probably at least that long (I'm actually not sure when she cashiered). She's one of the most soft spoken people that I know, and doesn't swear in normal conversation, but when she is annoyed or frustrated she can swear a blue streak with vehemence. It was great fun on guild nights in WoW years ago.

What's really funny though is that occasionally she'll swear without realising that she's doing it. One year we had Christmas dinner with her and her husband, another couple, and my family including my mother and friend of hers. We've got the good china, a roast goose, the whole works, and at one point my friend turns to the 80 year woman next to her and, very politely, says "pass the fucking salt".

Having been out of the Navy for years may have tempered her normal conversation, but certain habits become ingrained.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dicrostonyx

I have a friend who was in the Navy for fifteen years, and has been out for probably at least that long (I'm actually not sure when she cashiered). She's one of the most soft spoken people that I know, and doesn't swear in normal conversation, but when she is annoyed or frustrated she can swear a blue streak with vehemence. It was great fun on guild nights in WoW years ago.

Being a Navy brat, I spent a significant portion of my younger years around the Norfolk Navy base. I'd frequently hear the f-word used five to either times in every sentence many times, while meeting others who had a more ... extensive vocabulary. Still, I'd never give a story character that kind of speech, not because it wouldn't be believable, but because, after the first use, it uses it's shock value. In spoken English, its effectiveness is mainly due to inflection and energy, rather than their choice of words.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

In spoken English, its effectiveness is mainly due to inflection and energy, rather than their choice of words.

Exactly: have a situation where anyone would swear blue and there are those who will say "Oh, sugar" "oh bother" or some other inoffensive word but with force and probably some spit. After that the reader will read "sugar" as a swear word in appropriate circumstances.

(It's a bit like a legal document - you define a word however you wish and that is what it is whatever the dictionary might say.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

Exactly: have a situation where anyone would swear blue and there are those who will say "Oh, sugar" "oh bother" or some other inoffensive word but with force and probably some spit. After that the reader will read "sugar" as a swear word in appropriate circumstances.

Sounds good in theory, but it's hard to convey the necessary emphasis to "Oh, sugar" to make it sound like a curse. Instead, in writing it sounds like you're trying to write for 12-year-olds. There's the character you wish to convey, and then there's the reality of expressing it effectively to your readers. I picture Kylo Ren (from the newest Star Wars franchise) shouting "Oh, Sugar!" as he tears apart a room with his lightsaber.

REP
Updated:

As far as writing swear words, my opinion is if you are going to have your character use the words, then don't try to hide the words by using substitution characters.

During my youth and seven years in the Air Force, I learned quite a few swear words. As an employee of a Defense Contractor, I worked with enlisted and officer personnel of all four branches of the US military. I noticed swear word being dropped into conversations from time to time by military personnel, but not to the extent some people indicate here. Although I have listened to a few people with an impressive vocabulary of swear words.

There are two things that I have noticed about the use of swear words by military and civilians. First, the younger the speaker the more prevalent the use of socially unacceptable language. Second, the people using a large number of swear words seem to be those who are trying to impress the people around them.

My personal opinion is that an intelligent person can express their emotional state without having to resort to the use of swear words.

richardshagrin

@REP

Four branches of the US military? Army, Navy, and Air Force. You might think the Marines are a Branch, but they are part of the Department of the Navy. Under the Secretary of Defense there are Secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force. There is no Secretary of the Marine Corps. There is no separate military academy for Marines. Annapolis is the Naval Academy and some of its graduates take commissions as Second Lieutenants in the Marine Corps. Marines use Naval personnel, Corpsmen, for medical services. Most Marine aviators are trained to fly from aircraft carriers, part of the Navy. Without the Navy, the Marine Corps would just be Infantry.

Replies:   Dicrostonyx  REP
Dominions Son

@REP

My personal opinion is that an intelligent person can express their emotional state without having to resort to the use of swear words.


Well sure, but it's not nearly as much fun. :)

Dicrostonyx

@richardshagrin

Four branches of the US military? Army, Navy, and Air Force. You might think the Marines are a Branch, but they are part of the Department of the Navy.


Actually, there are five branches of the US military:

In simple terms, the U.S. Armed Forces are made up of the five armed service branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy.


Citation: http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/us-military-overview.html

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dicrostonyx

I m pretty sure the Coast Guard is not part of the Department of Defense. Last I heard it was in homeland Security and at one point was a Revenue Service as part of the Department of the Treasury. In wartime they have some military responsibilities working with the Navy, but they are not that kind of an armed force. Their larger ships have a few, perhaps one small gun (weapon), small in comparison to a Battleship or a Cruiser. I don't think their sailors are even minimally trained to shoot rifles. Are the FBI, Secret Service, US Marshal Service Armed Forces because they have pistols?

Replies:   tppm
REP

@richardshagrin

You are correct in that the Marine Corp falls under the Department of the Navy. However, while it receives its administrative and other support from the Navy, it is a separate branch of the military.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@REP


There are two things that I have noticed about the use of swear words by military and civilians. First, the younger the speaker the more prevalent the use of socially unacceptable language. Second, the people using a large number of swear words seem to be those who are trying to impress the people around them.


Instead of youth, it seems to be tied to education (lower ranking enlisted men/women swear more--especially to impress those in a similar situation) and officers strive to promote a sense of professionalism (they'll swear, but rarely, and only when they think it'll be acceptable--like screaming at an underling or among friend relating their experiences).

P.S. As the son of an officer, I ran into both over the years.

@RichardShagrin

You might think the Marines are a Branch, but they are part of the Department of the Navy.


The marines are the 'infantry of the sea', and were traditionally launched via ships to fight on shore, so they were part of the Navy. They don't use Army gear or support (planes, helicopters, etc.). A few 'specialist fields' work underwater, planting mines/bombs, etc.

My brother-in-law was a career Coast Guardsman.

@Dicrostonyx

Actually, there are five branches of the US military


The Coast guard used to be under the department of defense, but now they're under homeland security (there was a period where they were under the finance department (since they run drug interdictions).

Richard, the coast guard frequently have gun battles on the open sea with drug runners and criminal organizations, and yes, they often use a variety of weapons including machine guns.

P.P.S. As a Navy Chaplain, my father was often stationed at Marine bases, and served in Viet Nam with the Marines, instead of the Navy (Marine work on land for the Navy, while the Navy work at sea).

Replies:   REP  kimlsevier
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Age or education, it is hard to tell. With increasing age comes both a higher level of maturity and additional education. Is it the increased level of education or maturity that leads to the decrease in swearing.

kimlsevier

@Crumbly Writer

The Coast Guard is only under the Navy (like the USMC) in times of war (WW1 & WW2). The USCG and its predecessor the Revenue Marine Service were under the Treasury Department. The RMS was founded by Alexander Hamilton the first SecTreas to enforce the anti-smuggling laws. In the 60's, the CG was transferred to the Department of Transportation. After 9/11, it joined Homeland Security.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@kimlsevier


The Coast Guard is only under the Navy (like the USMC) in times of war (WW1 & WW2). The USCG and its predecessor the Revenue Marine Service were under the Treasury Department. The RMS was founded by Alexander Hamilton the first SecTreas to enforce the anti-smuggling laws. In the 60's, the CG was transferred to the Department of Transportation. After 9/11, it joined Homeland Security.


Not quite true. They were under the Department of Defense for a much longer time than the two 4-year World Wars. Also, they were only under the Treasury department for a relatively short time, at least during the 20th century (compared to the time they were under the DoD). (I need to check these details with my brother-in-law, as he's more up on the details than I am.) However, the key point here is that the Coast Guard has always been an odd duck. It's functions span many functions, only some of which are defense, commerce or transportation. As a result, they keep being tossed from one agency to another, with no one really taking their role in society that seriously. Which helps explain why they're so poorly understood by most Americans. (With each change in control, what they're allowed and expected to do shifts, leaving many guessing what their role actually is.)

Their role under Commerce is actually the most logical, as their control of waterways, free-flow of the waters during times of war, and interdiction efforts are all understandable as a part of allowing free commerce to flow naturally. I'd actually argue that their roles under the DoD and Homeland Security are the exceptions, rather than the rule.

Replies:   Dominions Son  FSwan
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Their role under Commerce is actually the most logical, as their control of waterways, free-flow of the waters during times of war, and interdiction efforts are all understandable as a part of allowing free commerce to flow naturally. I'd actually argue that their roles under the DoD and Homeland Security are the exceptions, rather than the rule.


You are forgetting their search and rescue role. That doesn't really fit under either Commerce or DoD.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

You are forgetting their search and rescue role. That doesn't really fit under either Commerce or DoD.

Actually, search and rescue, in addition to maintaining buoys, is part of making trade commercially feasible, and hence is a part of commerce. They're the enforcement arm of water based commerce regulations.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

Maybe search and rescue for persons engaged in transporting goods in commerce might be part of commerce. Rescuing pleasure boaters in trouble doesn't seem like engaging in commercial transactions to me. It might be some sort of public health and safety issue, like an ambulance service, or possibly firemen. There is a boat inspection service to the public including mostly boaters (yachts, but not that big) which also parallels what fire marshals/firemen do inspecting buildings to help prevent fire hazards. And of course the law enforcement part, giving tickets if you don't have life preservers for every passenger or if your boat is speeding. Kind of like a maritime police force. Defectives of the Police Farce.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
tppm

@richardshagrin

The Marine Corp is a corp of the Navy (they (Marines in general, not just U.S.) were originally the men who climbed into the rigging and fired small arms at opposing ships, made up boarding parties, and established beachheads), just as the Army Air Corp was once a Corp of the Army, and the Navy Air Corp (Aircraft Carrier pilots) is still a Corp of the Navy.

The Coast Guard was originally part of the Department of the Treasury, and is now a part of the Department of Homeland Security, though in wartime they are often subsumed into the Department of War/Defense.

One confusing factor is that the Marines use Army ranks, so a Marine Captain is the same rank as a Navy Lieutenant, while a Navy Captain is the same rank as a Marine Colonel.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@tppm

The officers of the Marine Corps are similar in rank to those of the Army. The enlisted men have somewhat comparable ranks, but there are no Specialists in the Marines, and some of the higher ranking Enlisted men have different names, although all include Sergeant. Its clearer if you use E1 through E9 (Sergeant Major of the Army for the Army, I have no idea what the title is in the Marines.) There are also variations between the Air Force and Army in the names of Enlisted personnel. Airman versus Private, for one thing.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Rescuing pleasure boaters in trouble doesn't seem like engaging in commercial transactions to me.

That's not how the Commerce department saw it. The ability to travel freely across the waterways of the U.S. was considered essential to the establishment of commerce, in the same way the building of an Interstate system of roads was seen as being essential to interstate commerce, which wasn't that big until then. A single family traveling to grandma's might not involve any great sums, but it sets the stage for large-scale deliveries. Pirates tend to discourage commerce.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Pirates tend to discourage commerce.


Coast Guard search and rescue is more about boating accidents than pirates.

graybyrd
Updated:

Wow! Did this $%@$#! thread get off topic! (smile)

As far as USCG regs for recreational boating, compare the Canadian safety requirements vs. the US safety requirements, and then weep. US regs fall far short of what's needed, while the Canadians are much more practical and comprehensive.

Both countries put an undue emphasis on "certified" and it can be very expensive. Fines of a thousand dollars have been levied for carrying a US certified life jacket by a Canadian boater (rather than a CA certified) and vice versa. So the letter of the regs often overrules common sense.

Since coming under DHS, the USCG emphasis is more on catching terrorists than assisting boaters. A boarding party (mandatory to stop & comply if you're hailed!) will just as likely be looking for drugs as an expired fire extinguisher or flares.

USCG will respond to a 'mayday' or immediate threat to life, but more typically will recommend a commercial vessel assist service. Average cost? $650 and up.

(We live on a Pacific NW island, in a huge boating area, so we have a front-row seat to the weekend follies.)

FSwan

@Crumbly Writer

If I'm reading the wiki article's timeline correctly:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Coast_Guard

The Coast Guard was transferred to the Navy Department from 1917-1919 and 1941-1946. The Defense Department wasn't formed until 1947.

The wiki timeline reads
Treasury 1915-1917
Navy 1917-1919
Treas 1919-1941
Navy 1941-1946
Treas 1946-1967
Transportation 1967-2003
Homeland Security 2003-present

The USCG has never been a prat of the Department of Commerce.

And I'm speaking as a CG vet (73-77).

richardshagrin

@FSwan

The USCG has never been a prat of the Department of Commerce.


Perhaps a pratfall?

Replies:   FSwan
FSwan

@richardshagrin

No, a fat fingered typo. The USCG has never been part of ...

tppm
Updated:

@FSwan


The Defense Department wasn't formed until 1947.


The name of the Department of War was changed to the Department of Defense in 1947, but in the order of succession (to the presidency) which is in the order of the establishment of the cabinet departments, the Sec Def holds the same position as the Sec War had previously.

Replies:   FSwan
Crumbly Writer

@FSwan

The USCG has never been a prat of the Department of Commerce.

Sorry, the DoC is a modern construct, before commerce was under the purview of the Treasury Department.

FSwan

@tppm

The fact is until the establishment of the DoD, the Department of War and the Navy Department were two separate cabinet level offices. They were subsumed into the DoD. Which doesn't really matter for this discussion as the CG was placed under the Navy Department. Back in the Day, the War Department dealt with Army matters.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@FSwan

One of the major reasons for the distinction between Navy and War Departments was sort of constitutional. To send the Army to attack some nation took a declaration of war by Congress. The president could send the Navy anywhere (Jefferson sent them to North Africa to attack the Barbary "Pirates".) No political action required, and the Marines assaulted the "Shores of Tripoli." Since the Marines were "Navy" it still didn't take a declaration of war.

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