10/14/08

Okie's may have the cleanest mouths ever!

And no I am not talking about their dental hygiene, I am referring to the almost total absence of swear words in their vocabulary.

I kid you not, it's probably been a good few months since I was in the company of anyone who swore publicly! Coming from England, where I don't think you'd get through more than a couple of hours without hearing someone swear, it is quite bizarre.

When I first moved here, I had to make a really conscious effort to clean up my 'potty' mouth and not shock the locals rigid. The hubster was very shocked on his visit to England at the level of cussing in general conversation, and especially the casual use of the 'f' word by us Brit's. And I come from very much a upper middle class area of the UK, with good schooling and values; but it doesn't stop us swearing like troopers on a daily basis at home, socially and at work.

We had a pub lunch with a group of my well-educated, highly successful and nicely raised girlfriends and some of their partners one day during the hubsters visit. Afterwards he was in total shock at the way the 'f' word was just used as a general verb numerous times during lunch. I hadn't even noticed until he pointed it out!

But apart from under my own roof in private, I can't remember the last time I heard anyone say it here! In fact I know people here who will take offence and vocalise it to you, if you take the Lord's name in vain. Something that nobody would even blink at in England.

I actually believe the thing that has the most influence here on the public behaviour and language of the majority of the people, is the high attendance rate in church. This is something that is in serious decline in England and has been for many years, and I now believe this does have a direct correlation with public behaviour. I would never have agreed with that statement before, had I not seen the evidence in my own daily life here.

I now find myself watching reality TV shows here closely, to see if shocked participants ever say "oh my God" in the heat of the moment. Well 99% of the time they will say "oh my gosh" instead, I can't ever remember saying this before I moved here, but I certainly do now! I was even shocked last night when a mom on 'Extreme Home Makeover' slipped and said the former.

It seems they just have more polite, publicly acceptable cuss words; like darn and friggin', although I think we all know what they're actually thinking. There was even a discussion on our local radio station this morning about local High School Football coaches using the 'f' word during games, and the problems this causes the radio station. There I was thinking 'good grief, you'd all have to wear ear plugs at an average British soccer game'!

In the heat of the moment I will revert instantly to my Brit' persona, and now I spend all day around the little people, I am very conscious of what comes out of my mouth as I get stressed. Where I used to work, we'd have all been standing around casually discussing and cussing to our hearts content.

I once as a Substitute Teacher, told a 4th grader to "sit your ass on that chair and keep it there". Not only did he do as he was told, but he and the rest of the class were so shocked they never mis-behaved again! I later heard he'd told his mom, who had actually found it highly amusing and told all her friends. It would never have occurred to me not to say this, but now I use butt instead!

It does make a pleasant change to not hear children running around the supermarkets swearing, a regular occurrence in Tesco! If a child swears in school they are instantly and severely reprimanded and so it's very rare.

Now I wonder if there is an awful lot of 'underground' cussing going on behind closed doors here. Who knows, maybe the air is deep blue when they all close their front doors and they can finally relax. But Okies in general, certainly keep up the very strong impression that they might just be the cleanest mouthed people on the planet!

20 comments:

Rhea said...

That's so weird that the British cuss more openly than we do. Or maybe it's not so weird. We Americans seem so prudish sometimes...

Katie said...

well holy shit! ;)

Oklahoma is the bible belt of the U.S. but I don't know what part of Oklahoma you're in because growing up there I heard cussing ALL THE TIME - from everyone.

Maybe that was just my family. hmmm... ;)

pamokc said...

Hmmmmm, interesting post for sure! John hates to hear women cussing and doesn't like it when the occasional one slips from me (cuss word that is) ... I do think there is a comfort level of who you are around though -- people might swear more around certain people than others. I do agree that it is more of the regular vocabulary in England -- they don't even realize they are swearing sometimes! It's just language.

Janet said...

I must admit to having had to tone down my language since moving to Oklahoma. (Not at home though):-)

Bloody seems to be acceptable, as it's not a cuss word here, and only a mild one in England. I also use gosh a lot, instead of God. I'm not religious myself, but do respect other's beliefs.

Expat mum said...

Well up here in Sodom, I mean Chicago, you hear the F word a lot, and that's just the kids!
I love what Southerners say instead of swearing - they won't even say God dammit, it's dad gammit!

notevenatshirt vb said...

during heated moments I am very much a potty-mouth and that was NEVER cool as I grew up in an ultra-Christian environment. Still to this day I have to really watch my mouth around my family and friends. My kids have always gotten in trouble if they say "God" vs. "gosh". I get it. :) BUT I also agree that the lack of cussing is healthier and better for the whole environment because it does change attitudes and manners.

Daryl said...

gawd fcuking damn woman I dont think I can visit OK ... and neither can anyone I work with ... my favorite expression is: its a fcuking disaster

And I say it a fcuking lot.

:-Daryl

Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) said...

Amusing. They are only words and only have power because people choose to give them that power. One can use simple "clean" words to hurt if one so chooses. Words are just language after all.

Winifred said...

Could be an age thing. Most older people here in UK don't use the F word et al.

We were definitely a working class family, my Dad was a miner but I never heard him swear other than the odd bloody and then you heard my Mam's sharp intake of breath.

The first time I heard really bad langauge in public was when I went to work in a hotel. All the chefs language was absolutely foul, the hotel manager too.

Most young people here do seem to use bad language but they hear it so often on TV (after 9.00pm) that they think it's normal.

The worst language seems to be in American films though when often every other word is mother****** so it's strange it hasn't transferred to the general public in the USA.

gingela5 said...

haha...Oklahoma is a bit conservative in the language department! I'd never really thought about it but I guess it is! Whenever I'm in public and hear someone cuss loudly I do turn in look out of shock. I'm sure there's a lot more cussing going on out there than what the public is leading on.

expateek said...

OMG!

With OMG meaning Oh my goodness! Or.... not exactly... keep reading.....

I have lived all over, in the US, the UK, and other far-flung spots, but one encounter completely stands alone in the "cussin'" department.

Once, in Waynesboro, PA, I was speaking to a friend, and in the course of conversation, I said "Gosh!" (Thinking that I had really "cleaned up" my bad language.)

And her small 7-year-oldish daughter said, "You shouldn't say that!"

"Why?", I asked.

"Because you really mean to say "G-d", and that means you're taking the Lord's name in vain and that means your sinning and.... "

I forgot the rest, because I was so shocked and embarrassed and taken aback.

So generally, even your INTENTIONS are noted by The Higher Power ... so don't even THINK it!! You've been warned.

In the US, I do do DO try to keep it clean. Very challenging. I hope I don't have to ever live in Oklahoma. I may have to have my vocal cords surgically removed.

A blessing for everyone, perhaps. Esp my husband!!

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

I can't bear to hear parents swear around their children. And you're right, here in England - well in some parts anyway - swearing has almost shoehorned it's way into everyday language until it's the 'norm'.
I go shopping with my children and have to cover their ears from swear words being thrown around at high volumne - and it's usually from other children do.
If either of mine ever swear I will be down on them like a ton of bricks!

pamokc said...

As my Granny used to say, "It is as much a sin to think it as it is to say it!"

Stuart Peel said...

Fuck Me !

Oh.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Very interesting feedback from you all. I would say from the responses from Daryl in NYC and Toni in Chicago, this is a regional thing. OK is most definitely in the bible belt and I am certain this has a major effect.

Just today I commented to two colleagues, neither old that it was 'pissing' down, you should have seen their faces and I had to explain!

I also know the older generations in the UK are less inclined to swear than the younger ones.

Oh and my boss says dad gammit all the time, it tickles me to death!

Sherri said...

Sarah, when DH and I went to Ireland we noticed people using the "f" word like it was their job. I had heard England was the same way. Here in Charlotte, NC you don't use those words very often either. With the Billy Graham Library right next door to where I work that word isn't used for often either!! That is alot for construction guys not to use it on a daily basis!

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Sherri, you're experience in Ireland doesn't surprise me at all, they put us in the shade. In fact there's a wonderful comedy TV show called Father Ted that made 'Feck' an entry in the dictionary!

Almost American said...

When I was an undergraduate in the UK (OK, it was a long time ago back in the early 80s!), I went out for the day with an American university rugby team. I had NEVER heard the f word used so much! I thought it was an entirely American thing. Not that my English friends didn't swear - we did, quite a lot sometimes, but we rarely used the f word!

leslie said...

Up here on the west coast of Canada, I'm just waiting for the day my daughter and her husband get called into the principal's office because of what their (currently 4-year-old son) will have uttered in class or out. I've been warning them for quite a while and will just laugh in their face when it happens! lol

Snippety Gibbet said...

I met my first Okies on my big bike ride last week. Four of 'em! They were quite lovely and had totally clean mouths.