Gutter Language

February 21, 2020

It seems that most schools still try to discourage swearing. Some schools even display “No swearing posters” or placards with warnings about using profanity. Here is one such poster available from K12 Posters from Principals Essentials, Inc. This poster can be purchased for $25.

Their website, Principals Essentials, Inc., also includes some helpful tips on curbing profanity. They mention that some of the poor language the children are learning come from media, television, radio, movies, and song lyrics. One of those tips suggests that students should be encouraged to read for 20 minutes a day.

Let’s see . . . How about reading these young adult books? (I am only including the F-Words and their variations here):

Run the Game by Jason Myers has over 1300, Tap Out by Eric Devine has 896, The Mission by Jason Myers has 544, Exit Here by Jason Myers has 447, Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan has 293, Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz has 220, and Winger by Andrew Smith has 199.

This list could fill up pages and pages and that was only the f-words in these seven books. Run the Game also includes the words (or their variations) anal, ass, bastard, bitch, cock, cunt damn, dick, dp’d, hell, penis, pussy, shit (1,329 times), slut, and whore. Run the Game by Jason Myers was published by Simon Pulse: An Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division in 2012.

The author of Tap Out, Eric Devine, is a high school English teacher.

Many young adult authors insist that it is necessary to use this language in their books because, after all, this is how kid’s talk. They claim the books would not be realistic without using these words. Even the Lexile Framework for Reading original site included variations of the f-word and other curse words in their lists of “up to 10 challenging words in each book that are important for students to know.”

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn has 275+ f-words included. David Levithan is an editor for Scholastic and the founding editor of the Push imprint. One page of this Levithan/Cohn book includes 26 f-words. I started wondering if the numerous audio books available today would include these words, bleep them out, make substitutions, or omit them altogether.

Only one way to find out! I downloaded the audio book. The audio holds true to the original, so now the young adults can hear the words as well as read them. The narrator used great emphasis while reading this page, too.

Attaching a poster to a school wall telling the kids not to swear, and then encouraging them to read—or listen—to books laced with profanity, seems to provide a mixed message.

Once again,the taxpayers get to foot the bill. They buy the books normalizing the language, and then buy the posters telling them not to talk that way.

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