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Old 10-23-2010, 09:26 PM   #1
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Excessive profanity in books

I hate it. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but when I read a book that is riddled with profanity I can't help but think that the author isn't very skilled at putting a good story together, so s/he is relying on shock value to carry the storyline. I wish there were book ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R, X).

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Old 10-23-2010, 09:39 PM   #2
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I too dislike it. I read Star Island by Carl Hiassen two months ago, and it was full of it - not just the quotes but the narration as well.

It's one reason I prefer stories that are fifty years old.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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I wouldn't want to see book ratings (too subjective) but I agree; too much use of profanity usually indicates a lack of language skills. I hear enough of it in everyday life, I don't need to be reading it.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:42 PM   #4
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I've encountered stories that I found nutsoid, without the 4 letter words.

But I take things in context. I remember in the 1950s, on American television, you couldn't say a woman was pregnant, even if she was obviously so. You had to say 'she was with child'. A strange way to put things.

Anyway, I don't think I've purchased books that had obsceneties in them, I doubt if I will.

I typically scan random parapgraphs in a book to decide if I want to buy it, if I find 4-letter words, I put it back.

And note folks that I spent 6 years in the US Navy, and I can turn the air blue with words. But I'm not interested in reading it in a book.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:52 PM   #5
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And note folks that I spent 6 years in the US Navy, and I can turn the air blue with words. But I'm not interested in reading it in a book.
I know how you feel. I worked 32 years in a redneck environment (power line costruction, power generation, etc; I was in warehousing). Bad as that was, it was nothing compared to the customers in the convenience store I worked in 5 1/2 years. It was a rough neighborhood. Just because I've heard it all (and could write a book on it) doesn't mean I want hear or read it.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:55 PM   #6
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I've been sticking to mostly older ebooks, but I'd like to buy some more recent ones as well. The problem is that unless I've read some of the author's work before, I don't know what I'm in for. I'm going to be rather upset if I find out I've just paid 8 bucks to read 300 pages worth of the F-bomb.

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I typically scan random parapgraphs in a book to decide if I want to buy it, if I find 4-letter words, I put it back.
That is *exactly* what I do with books as well, although I can't really do that with ebooks before I purchase them.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:11 PM   #7
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I'm with Joebill. 10 years in the U.S. Navy makes a lot of profanity lose it's impact.

Still, I'm not really bothered by it, unless it's inappropriate in the situation.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:21 PM   #8
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Are we talking about individual character profanity, here, or narrative profanity? Because I don't think twice about a character who uses profanity constantly, if that is part of their character.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:37 PM   #9
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Are we talking about individual character profanity, here, or narrative profanity? Because I don't think twice about a character who uses profanity constantly, if that is part of their character.
While I'll make some allowances for character profanity, there is a limit to how much I'll tolerate depending on how necessary it is to the story line (and, even then, there is a limit). I frequently read to escape life, not re-live it.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:49 PM   #10
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I must read the wrong books as I rarely encounter profanity. Or else I'm just inured to it?
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:56 PM   #11
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Are we talking about individual character profanity, here, or narrative profanity? Because I don't think twice about a character who uses profanity constantly, if that is part of their character.
For me, constant character profanity is a huge irritation. It gets to a certain point and then I put the book away permanently. I can hear it (and do) all day every day and I really don't want to have to read it all the time. Here and there is one thing.

My favorite genre is crime/mystery. Too often there is a hard-boiled detective character who can't seem to solve the crime unless he swears his way through it. It's annoying. Martha Grimes does it well with her Richard Jury series (haven't read her latest, so maybe that has changed). There was the occasional profanity but nothing even remotely excessive. And he even managed to solve the crimes!
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:03 PM   #12
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Or else I'm just inured to it?
Thinking that be my own problem too. I don't really cotton on to the swearing, maybe just from my own background (ex-RAF).
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:41 PM   #13
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Hmm, I find this thread interesting. I wouldn't have imagined that so many people felt so strongly about the use of profanity in fiction. I rarely use profanity in real life, usually saving it for moments when I'm very angry and alone, for example, if a computer glitch caused me to lose a huge chunk of work, I might indulge in a four-letter tirade directed at my flat-screen monitor.

However, in fiction, I don't bat an eye when characters express themselves (dialogue or monologue) with personality-appropriate verbiage, no matter how offensive. If they're twenty year-old gang-bangers, I would expect foul language, and would it find it unrealistic for them to speak any other way. But even if they're, say, 40-something moms, the occasional string of cuss words would neither surprise nor fluster me. It's all about whether the words are appropriate for the characater.

--Maria
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:13 AM   #14
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When I'm mad at myself I use a lot of bad words. But almost never against others.

I don't think that I read much profanity in the books that I like, but as others have said it just may be that the books that I like don't use it much.

In one post I said in jest;
We don't need your kind around here! You can just go to heck!

To which Stitchawl replied;
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Is 'heck' where people go who don't believe in Gosh?


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Old 10-24-2010, 12:16 AM   #15
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I'm with you on this one, Maria. I'm currently reading James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet, which deals with policemen in 1940's and 1950's Los Angeles. If those characters didn't swear and use colorful language, they wouldn't be very believable as mid-20th century policemen.

I think you have to try out a new author and, if you find his/her language too much, you simply chalk that one up to experience and move on to someone new.
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