Readers' Submissions

Foul Language

  • Written by Khun Bill
  • June 15th, 2012
  • 6 min read


This submission relates to Korski’s of 12 June. It contains passing reference to Thailand and I will pad it out to exceed 800 words so I hope it will pass Stick’s criteria for posting.

In my opinion Korski has penned some splendid submissions over the years. I have mailed him personally at least twice, on one occasion to thank him and congratulate him on what I thought was an excellent submission and on another occasion to question why he felt it necessary to incorporate foul language into a particular submission which, I suggested, would have read perfectly well without.

In many submissions the author gives some personal background – age, nationality and the like. In my case I confess to being of mature years (turning 65 this week), from England, old fashioned boys only grammar school educated and professionally qualified – perhaps not a ‘typical’ Stickman reader, although as Stick will know I have been a follower since the early days of the site. I have a Thai wife and have enjoyed all the many delights Thailand has to offer on countless visits over the last 30+ years.

Now Korski – or should I call him Dr Korski – is a clever man. We know that because he tells us so in many of his submissions. In this latest submission he reminds us that he has a PhD, that he has written ‘more than a dozen’ books and that he teaches not at any old university but at a ‘major’ university. It is with trepidation therefore that I attempt to tell Korski something…Dr Korski, there are many people in many countries of the world who do not like swearing, who do not swear and who find swearing rude, unacceptable, threatening, hostile, intimidating and a sign of low class and poor education. I know that you disagree, but two very important words which were missing in your submission were ‘respect’ and ‘consideration’. You come across in your submission as an intellectual bully who has no respect for the views of others, someone who does exactly what he wants to do without considering other people’s sensitivities.

My use of the expression ‘poor education’ above might provoke Dr Korski into retaliating with a thousand or more words telling me/us how highly educated he is, but education comprises more than just the assimilation of academic subjects such as the correct use of the English language. He seems to be rather dismissive of people who use the words ‘less’ and ‘fewer’ incorrectly – does that really matter? Being ‘educated’ includes being a good citizen, a kind person, being respectful to one’s elders and to authority, caring for one’s environment, living harmoniously with one’s neighbours, being tolerant of other peoples opinions, likes, dislikes etc…and so the list goes on.

In the next three paragraphs I cover just a few examples which indicate that people in different parts of the world, including in Dr Korski’s home country, have a dislike of swearing.

The day after Korski’s submission was posted there appeared a short article in my daily newspaper of choice (given the background information outlined above it will not surprise UK readers to learn that this was the Daily Telegraph of 13 June). The article explained that the residents of Middleborough, near Boston, Massachusetts, had voted to confirm a proposal by the town’s police chief to impose penalties on persons caught swearing in public. I believe that in the State of Victoria, Australia, swearing in public is punishable by a fine and that hundreds of offenders have been targeted over the last year or so. There was a proposal last year by the authorities in Barnsley, a town in northern England, to introduce on the spot fines for swearing in public, although I am uncertain as to whether this actually was implemented. These are three examples, maybe there are others?

In high profile sports on both sides of the Atlantic (I am talking American Football, Basketball, Football and Cricket) players and coaches/managers are regularly fined for swearing.

On television in the UK swear words are generally ‘beeped’ out, certainly before the 9pm watershed and often after that time. Warnings are given before the commencement of programmes that contain bad language.

Stick is certainly correct when it comes to the Thai attitude to bad language. A foreigner speaking low class Thai sprinkled with swear words will be looked down on by Thais, but of course in their own way i.e. they will not openly criticise or make any sort of comment. Thais can be surprisingly prudish when it comes to behaviour and conversation. I am not of course referring to bar girls, moto sai boys and the like but to ‘ordinary’ Thais. Beware of using bad language against a Thai, even calling one a liar, mad, stupid, an idiot or similar such, by western standards, mild names could lead to a serious altercation. Using the ‘F’ word could entail a trip to the hospital – Thai command of English is generally poor as we all know but they all know the ‘F’ word.

The use of swear words is on the increase regrettably. I used to travel very frequently to Ireland and even 10+ years ago use of the ‘F’ word was very common, far more so than in the UK. From my own observations, which seem to be backed up by how Korski and other US contributors write, it seems that Americans use the ‘F’ word quite liberally. The ‘F’ word even features in rap style music that is broadcast publicly. It is a long time since I went to Australia but I know a few Aussies and Korski is correct, they have progressed beyond the ‘F’ word and use the ‘C’ word.

I put the increasing use of bad language down to the steady decline in educational standards, discipline and behaviour generally, at least here in the UK. Here I leave myself open to being dismissed as an old fogey, out of date, even to being a snob. I disagree…when accused of being any of these things I counter by saying ‘no – I have standards’. Here I digress:

I don’t drop litter.

I don’t smoke, but if I did I would not drop cigarette ends on the street.

I don’t chew gum, but if I did I would not discard it on the street.

I don’t spit (a disgusting and unhealthy habit encouraged by professional sportsmen – what role models they are!)

I don’t put my feet up on furniture (outside of my own house that is).

In airport lounges, coffee bars or the like I do not spread my belongings to deny others a seat.

I cover my mouth when yawning.

I don’t walk around Bangkok – or any town or city for that matter – shirtless.

To conclude, there are enough words in the English language without resorting to swearing. I believe that I am in the majority but maybe I am wrong?



Stickman's thoughts:

Fair points made, but note to author, PLEASE try to make submissions relevant to Thailand or a neighbouring country!