Thursday, 14 October 2010

What The Bleep?!

How often do you think the average person swears? I wouldn't like to hazard a guess. Using and hearing expletives has become an everyday occurrence, like having tea and toast for breakfast. Not a day passes by when you don't hear a swear word or two used in general conversation, hollered in the street, or on the telly. Why so many feel the need to use expletives, dropping them nonchalantly in every other sentence I cannot fathom. What do these expressions add to a conversation? The answer is absolutely nothing! They do exactly as described – pad out a sentence without contributing any further meaning, much the same as flavour enhancers do in processed foods. Both unnecessary additions, but yet considered standard practice.

The use of foul language and crude behaviour has in my view escalated since I was a child, but then my exposure was limited. My parents refrained from swearing around me and commandeered the TV remote. Any violence, bad language, or funny business and the channels were quickly changed. With the old push-buttons this was often not fast enough! The legacy of this protective parenting however remains today. Expletives make me feel uncomfortable and seem superfluous to any plot or discussion. Is swearing the only way for us to convey our sentiments? I think not, but it's being absorbed and practiced by people of all ages like blotting paper. Kids swear like banshees in the playgrounds and the adults aren't much better. Our overuse of the F-word apparently going unnoticed.

Who's to blame for this lax attitude? Parents? Schools? Government? Media? Gordon Ramsey? Do we reply too heavily on the watershed to police our eyes and ears? The watershed stands for little when most kids have TVs in their rooms and stay up well beyond 9pm. What about programme makers too? A minute after 9 and all hell breaks loose in the name of drama. Whatever they can get away with to shock or titillate the audience they will. What impact or cost is this having on society? The results are discernible, but what about generations to come? Is stricter protocol the answer? In a nutshell no. Looking to the state to govern our code of conduct is dodging the problem, which some would say we do quite enough of already.

Gordon Ramsey I'm not, but I'm no angel either. True, I refuse to litter my conversations with foul language, but the odd word is occasionally muttered under my breath. Voiced out loud, they sound sinful – insulting to the ear and to whoever is passing by. Such profanities as these do not easily roll off my tongue as they seemingly appear to do for others. Are these words more acceptable in print where they can at least be read in silence? Their crudeness offends me here more than it does on hearing them. My question is simple: why? Is our command of English so poor that we cannot find more intelligent words to express how we feel? That may not be too far off the mark. Grammar, pronunciation, and spelling have fallen by the wayside, and ghetto speak has become the fashion. You can barely comprehend a word that's said! Parents or not, as adults we set the tone and vocalise to youngsters what is and isn't appropriate. Like Morse Code, swearing is best disguised in bleeps.