Monday, June 02, 2008

Naughty words worry librarians

If you've read my earlier posts about strong language, you'll know that I'm not in favour of censorship. I've just come across a particularly silly example, through the Effing Librarian blog. It pointed me to the article This Post is Rated X in The Library Journal, where I read that one library is not allowing users to review books in case they use bad language.

I am almost speechless at the stupidity of this. I think that the likelihood of someone taking the trouble to get into the catalogue and review a book purely for the sake of using offensive words has got to be slim. My own local library allows user reviews: the main problem is that hardly anyone bothers with this, not that the reviews are offensive.

I tried to find the name for a "fear of strong language" but the best I could come up with was maledictophobia. I'm not sure it's the right word but it's more specific than "bloody stupid", which was my initial reaction.

10 COMMENTS:

Whirlochre said...

ph-ph-phobia

fairyhedgehog said...

Giggle.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Bloody stupid works for me.

Robin S. said...

I agree. This fucking sucks. It's like the Scarlet A for colorful language. Which is here to stay, baby. Here to stay.

Why is it Brits are more free than their (puportedly) free-wheeling American sidekicks? I find that fascinating - given the supposed free speech we share - and our New World image we are supposed to be standard-bearing.

fairyhedgehog said...

The differences between our two societies are interesting, Robin.

My impression is that we are a lot freer over here and it is partly to do with the role of religion.

I saw the Simpsons episode last night where Ned Flanders got sacked from the school principal post for praying. In British primary schools, every day is supposed to start with an act of worship of a predominantly Christian nature. Yet our former PM didn't admit he was a Christian until after his terms of office had ended as that would have harmed him politically. What a mess of contradictions! I think that the US has a much stronger Christian presence within it and that is bound to leave you less free.

I think there is also the "foreign language effect" that purely British swearwords don't sound as strong to an American as US ones do. We had the same effect when we started pronouncing "arse" (a naughty word) as "ass" - which was American and therefore not so naughty.

fairyhedgehog said...

I meant to say: "Hi Kevin!" Nice to see you over here.

The.Effing.Librarian said...

wow. none of you think Americans are just assholes. I see the comment boards on news sites all over and all you see is the eff-word... and then the other posters go on and on about it. I think teens (in the U.S.) like to annoy people and posting dirty words is an easy way to do it. And to get attention. Americans want to be noticed. as for my original post, I never said I didn't want comments opened in our catalog, I just don't want the job of moderating them.

fairyhedgehog said...

Hi Effing Librarian!

I thought it was someone else who was reported as not opening their catalogue to comments because of potential swearing. I can see why no one would want the job of moderating; I'd have thought it's pretty self-moderating though. If someone posts something that offends, you'll soon get a public-spirited reader reporting it!

I definitely don't think Americans are arseholes. I don't like your government but then I don't like my government either.

Kevin Musgrove said...

We have the cultural advantages of Kenneth Tynan, Mary Whitehouse and Tony Blair (every time I see him on TV my language goes quickly downhill)

We seem to have a much richer vocabulary of Anglo-Saxon swear words than our American cousins, too, which is puzzling.

fairyhedgehog said...

I confess to not having heard of Kenneth Tynan and I had to Google him. Tony Blair is another matter entirely but I'd rather not get into politics. To be fair, I think I'd hate whoever is the Prime Minister, although so far Gordon Brown hasn't managed to make much of an impression on me at the moment.

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