Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Offensive expression

Brought up in a family where “F***”, “S**t” or “A**” are considered as offensive words, I experienced cultural shock as my beloved debating friends say those words in front of me. Though they didn’t mean it to me, but I feel offended the same. It’s rude especially when you’re consciously saying it.

I understand the influence of media could be huge. People eventually take those words as a form of culture as the Westerners are doing it. As much as we’d like to follow their fashion trend or hum the latest pop single on the chart, we tend to assume this is a part of the cool culture we can adapt into our life style. You’ll be deemed nerdy if you are not speaking the “modern” language or deemed narrow-minded if you can’t accept those words in your conversation with others. True, their fashion sense at large is at the edging point, where new, out-of-the-box ideas always fascinate us, as well as their music-makers who love to explore new angle of this art. Yet, it doesn’t mean following what the idols say is good for us.

Some will say: It’s only a word; I’m not using a knife to stab you or cause you any physical harm. However, the point here is not whether one is hurt physically or mentally. It’s the idea of civilization of mankind.

As we’re moving forward to be more civilized in perception and action, new ideas and principles are being explored to bring us to a higher level of understanding of our relationship to the people around us. We’ve become more polite and self-conscious. We are aware of the importance of speaking with wisdom and respect. We acknowledge the role of speeches which is helpful to the others, not otherwise. Using these words with the intention to express the idea other than its original meaning is not going to help us to reach a higher level of communication, which is the center of building relationships and social networking. Not only it does not help us to express ourselves, such usage degrades the language itself.

No point arguing which language is more developed or sophisticated than the others or which is more widely used and accepted globally than the others. The point is, are we actually using language as a communication tool effectively? Nearly 20 years of education, what we learn is not only the academia knowledge for the sake of storing our brain with “something”, but it’s for the sake of nation development and at a larger picture, evolution of mankind. On order for us to reach this common goal, we need to work together, with people of all walks of life. Hence, the effectiveness of communication and ultimate relation skill play a crucial role. Politeness is one of the key factors to maintain a healthy and fruitful relationship with others.

Having said that, are these words too offensive for one to swallow? Some people have been exposed to it before they even learn to say “Mama”. To them, it’s just another term. To some people saying it out loud will bring them a cane at the back. To me, after 21 years of restriction from my parents and community circle around me (my relatives, my neighbours, my friends, my teachers and etc), the habit of using those words will never develop in me as I can suppress it consciously now. Yet, it doesn’t deny the fact that I’m brought up under the same exposure dose of Western movies and hits with my friends who often use those words in their conversation. My perception to them is – they are offensive words used by uncivilized people and it is rude.

And I believe I represent the voice of the generals because you don’t see any printed materials or subtitles using those words as a form of communication with the public. These words are even censored from movies or TV programmes, DJs and VJs never use them on show and etc. It’s obvious that the society doesn’t need this kind of expression in their daily life. They’ve found better way of expression. How about you?

I’ve tried not to wince whenever I heard my friends use those words (I’ve rarely heard someone use those words in my first 19 years of life, can you imagine the trauma I was at when I heard other uni friends use it in front of me?), still, the feeling of uneasiness has never been shielded from me even after long exposure from my debater friends. Even if they want to say: “I’m not saying it to you!” it doesn’t change the point of them being rude at that very moment, in my opinion.

Though I’m not saying that from now on I’m going to stay away from them because of these words, as I still see a lot of beautiful personal characteristics in them, I hope they’ll reduce the usage of such words or at least be more aware and sensitive towards the people within earshot.

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