British and American Swearing
Posted: 03 July 2013 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m writing a paper (BA) on British and American swearing and I’m conducting a survey based on 25 examples of swear words and expressions from different categories. Its purpose is to check people’s awareness of certain swear words and expressions, frequency of their use, and to find out people’s perception of their offensiveness. I realise that this isn’t really about etymology, but it seems like a proper community to post such a survey. If you have two minutes to spare (quite basic questions) I would appreciate iyour participation. Please mind that this survey contains vulgarity. (duh)

Please be honest in your answers. Thank you!

This is the link

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Posted: 03 July 2013 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I didn’t follow through on the post survey signup page. I hope my answers came through.  Two comments: For every answer Neither I meant Both.  If that wasn’t what you intended you should add Both.  For words answered No to the question of knowing what it meant you should have an option for not knowing how offensive it is.

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Posted: 03 July 2013 04:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I didn’t know there would be any sort of signup page, sorry for that… but I think the answers came through -I already have 3 responses. Thank you!

As to not knowing how offensive it is just leave the question without an answer - the only “obligatory” questions are these about knowing it :)

And as for the neither - both fiasco: I know it may be a bit obscure… I meant that option for the words that in your eyes do not hold the distinction of being strictly British nor American. That also means that they are in a way both British and American, as well as Australian etc. - it’s just English. Is that what you had in mind?

[ Edited: 04 July 2013 07:31 AM by slepinio ]
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Posted: 03 July 2013 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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That’s what I had in mind.  It just seems like Neither is 180º out from being the right answer.

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Posted: 03 July 2013 08:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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"Two comments: For every answer Neither I meant Both.”

Same for me.

The other thing:
You’ve asked, for instance, whether the reader is familiar with the terms “slag” and “dick”.

An American metallurgist will certianly be familiar with the term “slag”, and may well be wondering why you are asking how offensive he finds the term.
You might say, “Well it is obvious from the context that I am referring to slag meaning worthless woman etc., but that will only be obvious to people who _are_ familiar with that meaning. If you are going to assume that they are familiar with it, then there is no need to ask the question. You might consider reframing your questions for the words that have common innocuous meanings.

Similarly, the most puritanical self-censoring fan of early 20th century detective fiction will of course be familiar with the word “dick"…

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Posted: 04 July 2013 01:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Of course I thought about certain words having more than one meaning, not necessarily vulgar, but decided not to address this matter, as the survey is about swear words, so I assumed that people will gather that it’s not about cinders, detectives and possibly Richards. And I think it’s working so far :)

As for the neither fiasco, I’ll address it once more, because I’m not convinced that “both” would be a better answer. Here’s why: the first two answers were “Typically British” and “Typically American”. So by saying “both” you are saying that the word is both typically British and typically American (typical meaning distinctive). For me this answer is when this word is both British and american, but neither typically British, nor typically American. Of course I can be wrong (I’m not a native speaker), and I welcome discussion.

And thanks again fot taking part in this and for your comments! I really appreciate all of it!

Edit: I added a note:

“Questions in this survey concern swear words and expressions. Some words may have additional, non-vulgar meaning - I’m not asking about that. I’m only interested in your perception of swearing.”

(although I did it rather to be correct than to avoid confusion)

[ Edited: 04 July 2013 07:51 AM by slepinio ]
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Posted: 04 July 2013 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The phrase “piss off” is vulgar in British and American English but has very different meanings.

Thanks for explaining that you are not a native speaker. I was about to ask you to justify your verb tenses here:

I didn’t know there will be any sort of signup page

;-)

However, I would point out to you that when several native English speakers suggest a problem, you might take heed. The word “typically” does not equate to “distinctively” in my brand of English.

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Posted: 04 July 2013 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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It was supposed to be “would”. Sorry.

Can you explain the difference of meaning of “piss of” in AME and BE?

So I should write “distinctively”. I’ll change that then, thank you. I guess that dictionary definitions aren’t always enough. Sometimes you have to be a native speaker to fully understand the true meaning behind a word and its connotations.

Collins Dictionary, first entry on “typical”:

being or serving as a representative example of a particular type; characteristic ⇒ “the painting is a typical Rembrandt”

thefreedictionary.com, second entry od “distinctive”:

Characteristic or typical

And I was looking to find the words characteristic to either BE or AME. I really thought that “typically” is a good word here, It appears I was wrong.

[ Edited: 04 July 2013 07:55 AM by slepinio ]
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Posted: 04 July 2013 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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No need to be contrite. It’s a great survey and, frankly, your English is excellent.

I don’t know if “distinctively” is the right alternative. You might wait to hear from others. You could resort to the slash method: typically/distinctively.

So, “piss off” in American is a transitive verb phrase meaning to anger someone. “He really pissed me off” means he made me angry. In British English, I believe, they say “Piss off!” to mean get the hell out of here.

[ Edited: 04 July 2013 07:59 AM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 04 July 2013 08:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hmm… you’re right, that may be a problem. I actually meant “piss off” in a British way. I knew the other use of this phrase, but I didn’t remember it when I was writing the survey. Any additional information like that is much appreciated, thank you!

As for the other problem: you all know now what I had in mind, so what word would you choose to substitute the unfortunate “typically”?

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Posted: 04 July 2013 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I would have given identical answers, regardless of whether your question had said “typically” or “distinctively”, though I agree that the latter word would have been a sounder choice.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that you are not a native English speaker --- your use of the language shows a level of care and attention to which not many native English speakers aspire nowadays (typical old person’s rant—like the old gray mare, things ain’t what they used to be). Many English-speaking scientists and engineers are little better than semi-literate, at best. Congratulations to your teachers and to yourself. You serve the English language far better than do many native speakers. Welcome to this forum, and stick around.

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Posted: 05 July 2013 03:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Iron Pyrite - 04 July 2013 07:56 AM

So, “piss off” in American is a transitive verb phrase meaning to anger someone. “He really pissed me off” means he made me angry. In British English, I believe, they say “Piss off!” to mean get the hell out of here.

Both senses are current in British English.

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