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For F*cks sake! - Sally's Journal
July 5th, 2006
03:13 pm

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For F*cks sake!
I suddenly find myself thinking about the odd practice of people putting *st*r*sks in *ff*nd*ng words. It started with West of **l*ngs article on the Bollocks to Bl**r t-shirts, and then crossed my mind again today when I noticed s*m**n* using their LJ to rant about "B*******".

Now, it may be hypocritical for the pr*ss to c*ns*r words they would be quite h*ppy to print, but the idea of c*ns*r*ng things you are reporting does make sense. It is a way round the conflict between "as a paper, we would not print words like that" and "as a paper, we should report what was said". But censoring things that you yourself have written? Where's the point in that? If the word offends you, you are quite within your power to use another word. Perhaps it's a sign of concern that other people might be offended by it. But (aside from the low likelihood of the LJ community being offended by anything) why would the fact that there are a few tr*fl*ng *st*r*sks stop anyone from being able to infer, given context, what the word is? And if they can infer what the word is, does anyone really go "Gosh, I would have been *ff*nd*d if I'd seen that word, I'm terribly grateful that those *st*r*sks have saved me having to look at it! What a considerate poster went out of their way to save my bl*sh*s!"? Or is it just another way of flaunting moral s*p*r**r*ty, a "lesser people would have used rude words at this point, but I am correctly *d*c*t*d and I do not sink to that level even in my hour of need"? Or an indication of *mm*t*r*ty, a lack of comfort and confidence with their language, like 12 year olds g*ggl*ng at the word "c*me"? Gosh, how n**ghty, I hinted that I might have thought about writing the word b*******! How r*squ*!

Yours,
Confused of Cambridge

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From:neonchameleon
Date:July 5th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)

"D*mn" said Carrot, a linguistic feat.

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I can see the point of censoring entire expletives and replacing them with gibberish on the grounds that most uses of expletives are "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" - and I can see doing the same to your own words in self-mockery (I sometimes do). But censoring individual letters doesn't disguise the message and just makes things harder to read.
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From:borusa
Date:July 5th, 2006 02:49 pm (UTC)
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Or, conceiveably, that I don't want to get people looking at my posts/reading my emails in trouble at their POW?
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From:numberland
Date:July 5th, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC)
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Partly worksafeness. In person I tend to say Bee and similar and only true explitively in reaction to pain. However I cannot say Bee in a sufficiently pissed off voice in lj such that people realise that I am genuinely hurt/pissed off etc by this. Hence a way to express genuine feeling without actually using a word I wouldn't normally use in person. I wouldn't do this for more than one or two words per post/email so it shouldn't effect readability too much.
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From:numberland
Date:July 5th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC)
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Plus I vaguely prefer reading stuff which doesn't have too many explitives unastixed as it means I can just read the explitives as 'explitive' and move on without bothering to think about the word which it actually was. I wouldn't expect other people to do this constitantly but I prefer to write my journal in a style I like reading.
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From:simont
Date:July 5th, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC)
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I went and looked at the article you link to, and was terribly disappointed to find that the actual T-shirt simply read "Bollocks to Blair". It's clear to me that "Bollocks to Bl**r" is much funnier than either "Bollocks to Blair" or "B*ll*cks to Blair"!

Therefore, you should start producing "Bollocks to Bl**r" T-shirts. Or at least that's what I'd advise if I didn't know how much sheer annoying hassle it was to produce T-shirts :-/
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From:lavendersparkle
Date:July 5th, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC)
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It can be a way of avoiding the dreaded email/internet filters of doom.
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From:emperor
Date:July 5th, 2006 03:09 pm (UTC)
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...unless you live in Scunthorpe?
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:July 5th, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC)
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The language log has a lot to say about newspapers avoiding things. I agree the most sensible policy is to avoid using bad words, but if you mean them, or want to report that someone else said them in quotes, then say them!

OTOH, it can make sense to elide most of a word (as opposed to using %^&*(&^ instead, which often makes sense online). If someone (eg. a young child) really is unaware of a word, well, maybe we can keep them that way if that's preferred by them/their parents. Occasionally there are words I don't want to even be considered saying: it's not necessarily sensible, but there are people who will flame me for even mentioning, eg. "nigger", so I may choose to avoid the grief and not force them to read it.
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From:edith_the_hutt
Date:July 5th, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC)
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"Let us swear while we may, for in heaven it will not be allowed." ~ Mark Twain
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From:ewx
Date:July 5th, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC)
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The fuck.</uk.misc>
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From:the_marquis
Date:July 5th, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC)
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I think some people use it because they choose to do so for their own reasons. It may be to render the entry work or child safe for the FList, it may be just to make a humorous point.
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From:teleute
Date:July 5th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
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I thought it started to get words through filters (much as using fsck does). I assumed it generally continues due to social change - the way txtspk has also infiltrated much writen language, and the way that emoticons now dot people's handwritten word. I actually find it hard to properly express myself in email when I'm writing to people who don't use emoticons - they have become too much a part of the way I write. I have always assumed the asterisks were the same thing...
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From:ewx
Date:July 5th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
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fsck is a (distinctly tired) UNIX pun...
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From:gerald_duck
Date:July 5th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
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I've never bleeped my Livejournal, and I don't intend to. I use expletives quite rarely (in my most recent 20 postings I count two "WTF"s, a "crap", a "bugger", two "shit"s, a "shitless", a "fucking" and four "clod"s, which isn't much in several thousand words), but don't bother trying to hide them when I do.

I think the attitude of newspapers belies a confused attitude amongst the more hypocritical elements of the public: they want to know the word in question so they can disapprove of it, but would complain to the newspaper if it were printed verbatim. This makes no sense to me, either.
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From:mobbsy
Date:July 5th, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)
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I was amused recently to see The Observer run a piece containing the text
When told she would replace Jack Straw as the foreign secretary - one of the most senior ranking posts in government - Ms Beckett's response was "unprintable in your newspaper", she confided.


Underneath the headline:

'Fuck, I'm stunned,' new foreign secretary told Blair

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1807798,00.html
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From:lnr
Date:July 6th, 2006 09:48 am (UTC)
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I note that I'm pretty sure I've seen the Graun explaining bits of its editorial policy: one of which is that when they quote someone swearing then they don't edit it out, either partially or fully. I definitely respect that position, and anyone reading who is shocked by swearing should be shocked at the person who said it, not the paper for reproducing it.
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From:ceb
Date:July 5th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)
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I do it when pretending a normal word is a swear word for comic effect (c.f. C*rnw*ll).
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From:miss_next
Date:July 5th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
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Me too. I'm a QPR fan, so I tend to refer to Ch***ea. :-)
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From:rochvelleth
Date:July 5th, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC)
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I'd never thought of it like that, but now I feel mildly enraged (you're very good with the rant-oratory - and there should be a word for that but I can't think of one). I suppose it's one of those social taboos. It's a bit like Victorians and fig leaves - I mean, you can imagine what's behind them, can't you? Even a child could. So they might as well leave the statues exposed really. In fact, they should allow nudity on TV before the watershed. But I think at some point there was a strong notion that if you are publically shielded from something then it can't corrupt you, even if you do know what you're being shielded from. Maybe it's supposed to stop you from being tempted to say the swear word or something. *shrug* Really though, I don't think there's an excuse these days.
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From:miss_next
Date:July 5th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
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Heh. I recently had a meal in an Italian restaurant where there was a classical portrait of Neptune on the wall, stark naked except for a strategically positioned shell. Much amusement was had by all hypothesising about exactly how it stayed on. :-)
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