You get used to a few things being different when you move to a new country. Most of them are obvious, some…you just can’t put your finger on at first. It was only a few weeks after moving to the US that, one night as my husband and I were about to fall asleep, one of us suddenly realized what one of them was and asked the other “have you noticed that nobody swears?” – that was it! No one was using swear words. No one! (and while we know what Americans mean when they call them “curse” words, we don’t say that. “Cursing” makes me imagine that you’re stabbing voodoo dolls or something).
I didn’t realize how much Australians swear until I moved to Tennessee. Australians seem to feel more free to use foul language. Sure there are some differences as to how often people use those words depending on their social class, and there are certainly situations where their use would be frowned on, but the use of swear words isn’t as big a deal as it is in Tennessee.
Living here makes me realize how putrid Australians can be.
The word “cunt”, for example, can be either an insult or a compliment in Australia, depending on the context. I have been assured that it is NOT a compliment here under any circumstances so I am fairly mindful who I use it in front of (and no, I wasn’t told this after mistakenly using the word as a compliment).
The lack of swearing doesn’t seem to apply to the whole of the US, but I wasn’t surprised to see that when curse words were mapped by state, it was obvious I was living in a “Gosh” state. That’s not even a swear word!
A few weeks after we’d had the swearing epiphany, I was taking some rubbish outside and overheard one of our neighbors say the word “shit”.
The fucking relief!!!!
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Gosh. According to the map, I’m surrounded by assholes who are a little too comfortable dropping the F word. And I don’t mean Fuck. I mean the bad one.
Yep, fuck is a hell of a lot less offensive!
Oh, I feel ya. When I moved into my fancy-schmancy neighborhood, I was so so so happy when I finally heard one of the Bunco ladies cuss. She immediately became my homie.
That magical moment when you realized she was one of your people!
This is too funny! I grew up in California, and cursing is the norm with my family. You can imagine the fucking culture shock I experienced, when I lived in Boise, Idaho for a couple of years with the Mormons. I had never heard anyone say, “What the crap!” before. It’s not as bad in North Carolina, but people here usually say, “bless your heart” instead of “fuck you, bitch.”
Haha yes! I’ve been told that people aren’t being nice when they say that here!
Bless your heart is definitely not nice! But for some reason it excuses you from being a gossiping bitch.
“nice” southern lady: Oh my, did you hear? Stephanie’s husband just ran off with the nanny! Bless her heart.
“nice” southern lady: Have you seen Stephanie lately? Bless her heart she has blown up like a balloon. Must be because her husband ran off with that nanny. The poor dear.
I would rather be called a cunt any day 😀
Australian translation: “Did you hear about that cunt Stephanie? Her husband was fucking the nanny! Haha suck shit!”
Yeah, it took me a minute before I realized that “bless their heart” was a straight up bitch slap.
Now I use it all. the. time.
Haha oh the much-loved “bless your heart.” Yep, in North Carolina we use that allllll the time. General rule of thumb for cussin’ in the South: you don’t call people bad names, but you can certainly express your anger about an object, and “bitch” is a verb, as in “I’m just bitchin’ about work drama again,” unless you’re talking about your ol’ hunting dog or you’re talking to your best girlfriends. 🙂 Great post though, and don’t forget, a recent study says if you’ve got a large vocabulary of curse words then it’s a sign of high intelligence! 😀 That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.
I like those kinds of studies!
The funny thing to me about “bless your heart” is my grandmother who never wished ill on another person would say that every time she heard a tragedy had befallen someone. It was, for her, a genuine expression of sympathy.
I guess it’s like “cunt” in Australia. It all depends on context.
This was awesome! I laughed but only because its true. Having been in the Navy cussing is a way of life – then you get out and realize, dammit, no one cusses, and they are all looking at me like I am some kind of slob because I still slip everyone once in awhile…..
My husband was surprised when some workmates here seemed to be taken aback that he’d said “fuck”. It’s a workshop! Dudes are meant to swear there!
I was also in the Navy. Before I got in I was raised in a very Christian household were no swear words were EVER uttered. Then just a few years in the navy it was Fuck this and fuck that every other sentence. During my first Xmas leave I actually had to practice not swearing because I was afraid I would let one slip in front of my parents. I would tell my friends to punch me if I let one drop. Boy were my arms black and blue. It worked though, I never let one slip in front of them. However, I was in church during that leave telling a story to some people in Sunday school and I said “…and shit” at the end of a sentence. All eyes were wide and mouths were open. You could have heard a pin drop. I’m surprised they didn’t dunk me in the baptismal water to drive the demons away!
It’s hard to stop when it becomes second nature. Found this out when we were trying to tone it down in front of our spawn!
Oh I find this so hilarious! It is true how the America views curse words. Personally I think they are just words. But I was raised in a Christian home and I wouldn’t dare cuss in front of my family, but I cuss all the time in my own home. I am pretty sure one of the most used phrases is dammit Marshy and the word bitch<–But more of endearing tone.
My mum is not an Aussie and she never swore for years. The first time she said “arse-hole” when she was angry she cried 😀
Haha great all these differences. I’m from the NL and my BF from the USA and oh my, he thinks i’m rude haha. I’m just me.
Clearly it isn’t just Australia then! 🙂
Lmao!! Yea us Americans are a bit into polite conversation and things you can’t say in polite company. Then thr Brits and Aussies make us blush haha.
Yep, we’re pretty darn gross 😀
I don’t know what it is about swear words but they sound so much better in an Australian or even British accent. We Americans lose something in the translation.
That reminds me of a funny story about Mark Twain, though. His wife asked him, repeatedly, to stop swearing. He promised he’d try but one afternoon while playing billiards he missed a shot and wove a broad tapestry of epithets.
His wife came in and, calmly and quietly, repeated every word he’d just said.
He replied, “You have the vocabulary but are far from mastering the usage.”
I’ve no doubt Mark Twain would make such words sound refined.