Posted by Sauerkraut on December 04, 2000
In Reply to: Why use profanity on this site? posted by Bob on November 21, 2000
: : : : I think someone has added the "f" word to a phrase to see if the rest of us are noticing("'f' a duck")! (I found it when typing in "turkey".) Well, when I let my 6th grade Writing Lab class go to your site during our class today, and they found this profanity, it was, to say the least, embarrassing that I hadn't seen it before. Why do you need such a word on an otherwise very appropriate and educational site? I would love to hear from other people on this. When I went to check the meaning and derivation of this phrase, it wasn't there! Which means that someone had to have added it for "shock value" or to get a laugh! Well, I don't think that is too funny, not in this day and age where parents are blaming teachers for everything, not to mention letting their kids find the "f" word on the internet! Thank you for letting me vent! May I have a response, please?
: : : Jeanine,
: : : The searchable database on this site is a list
: : : of the English phrases and sayings that are in
: : : common use - as comprehensive a list as I can make it.
: : : English contains many phrases that contain swearwords, sexual references or other allusions that some might find offensive, like racism or sexism. Many reference works and works of literature contain such words/phrases and, like them, this site follows the principle of recording the language as it is not as some people would like it to be. Nothing is put into the database to shock.
: : : The only censorship I do make is of discussion group postings that are abusive or are clearly intended to be hurtful.
: : : I don't know much about the educational and social conditions in your country or what expectations parents have of you, nor is it reasonable for you to expect those factors to determine what I include here.
: : : I'm sorry if you were embarrassed. It may well be that you judge some of the content on this site unsuitable for the children you teach. I don't know how old 6th grade children are, but that may well be the right choice for you.
: : : If there are any constructive suggestions on how to change the site to suit your needs, short of censorship, I'd be happy to consider them.
: : : Gary Martin
: : : Phrase Finder Admin.
: : The educational conditions in the U.S. (in my opinion) are that some parents are pretty touchy and the only reason they contact the school is to complain about something. On the other hand, while I've had good relationships with most of my children's teachers, I sometimes feel the only reason teachers want parents at school is to bring a pie for Teacher Appreciation Day. Someone could probably write a paper on the cause of this animosity. In my state, government is trying to fix it by having decision-making parent councils at each school.
: : Anyway, back to touchy parents. Case in point: I read a People magazine article a while back about a teacher who read a delightful book, "Nappy Hair," to her class. It's about a little African-American girl who is chased around by grownups wanting to tame her hair. The teacher was called to the assembly hall and, without advanced warning by the principal, was confronted by an angry group of African-American parents. A lamb to the slaughter. The book is great and I have a copy. But the parents objected to the word "nappy." So you can imagine what might happen in this instance if the children go home and tell their parents that teacher let them see a site where it says "f**k." (Despite the fact that kids hear the word on the streets and at the movies all the time.) It is a sad situation that leads to some pretty uninspired "safe" teaching. But that's the way it is. Again, in my humble opinion.
: The 11-year-olds in the class will not be permanently scarred by the experience. They've already looked up lots of "forbidden" words in the unabridged dictionary, and survived.
I've so far stayed out of this one, but since this is a site about words, I need to point out that the term "profanity" means the irreverent treatment or use of something sacred. Check out any handy dictionary - it"ll say something like that. What we are dealing with here is "vulgarity" - low, common or coarse language, which, while unpleasing to the ear and the senses is not sinful as is profanity. The "f-word" is vulgar, but not profane.
I hate to see the beautiful nuances of our language smeared by too broad a usage, which then eventually becomes the norm. Look whate's happened to "affect" and "effect."