Do we have to write in American English?

This is going to sound a bit whiney, I suspect - I don’t mean it to. But something about Spectre of Pithecanthropus’s moderating in this thread rubbed me the wrong way:

I didn’t see a problem with Happy Poster’s use of the term - it was a perfectly normal use in British English. I know in the US, that particular word is apparently seen as a huge deal, though.

So I guess the point of this post is to check: are we supposed to stick to the rules of polite American English when writing on this board? Are there other words that you’d prefer we not use, or is it just that one? I swear a fair amount in real life, you see, and wouldn’t want to accidentally cross any lines - I only know that that particular word is a huge no-no in the US because of discussions that have happened on this board; there might well be others I don’t know about.

IANAModerator, but hasn’t it been clearly established that the use of that word is unacceptable on the SDMB?

Use of “cunt” is generally seen as a big deal in the UK, too. Descriptions of life in Britain where that word is thrown around like “bloody”, or some other innocuous swear word, as often seen on this board, leave me scratching my head; there is nowhere in the UK, that I’m familiar with, where that word isn’t highly offensive.

It’s only offensive if you let it offend you. The problem is with the perceiver, not the pronouncer.

I don’t know, I’ve certainly heard terms like “daft cunt” and “stupid cunt” being thrown around without meaning much by it - it’s insulting, for sure, but I get the impression it’s a much bigger deal in the US.

Come on. I’ve used “cunt” in the past precisely because I know how offensive use of that word is, and it’s literally the only word that could convey the utter contempt that I was feeling for whatever had happened.

(I’m not arguing that moderation was right or wrong here. I’m simply remarking upon the fact that there appears to be a weird misconception about the use of that particular word in Britain on these boards. It simply isn’t said in polite society, because it’s highly offensive.)

ETA: in reply to ivan.

I agree. “Cunt” is indeed the most offensive word available in the UK, but it does seem to have a subtly different meaning to how it is perceived in the US.

One of the reasons I think is gender divide. “Stupid cunt” is a stronger version of “you arsehole” or “you bastard” in the UK, and it is usually directed towards males. When it’s directed towards a woman (which is rarely) it does seem to me that it would have the same connotations that it does in the US.

My experience of the word differs from Capt Ridley’s - my social circle uses it all the time, as does wider local society: I have related before the story my brother hitchhiking with a guitar and the driver who picked him up asking “do you strum the fucker or do you pluck the cunt?”

As for the ruling - well, it’s the SDMB and it lives in America, so we should respect the exceptional items that are more offensive there, out of politeness. In return I’d hope there was a bit of give and take, e.g. that moderators would slap down someone who uses the epithet “Paki”, which holds few connotations in the US, but is deeply offensive in the UK for historical reasons.

I’m a casual cunt user and my annoyance with someone is more indicative by my tone, than the words I use.

Knowing the c word is offensive to many should be enough to deter using it on the message board, imo. It’s not about rules and regulations. It’s an unnecessary and useless word - unless one chooses to use it deliberately in pursuit of being a jerk. For those of you that don’t get it, it is not a word to represent Pussy. It’s as contemptuous a word for a woman as you can get.

I’ve never really liked that argument. I think it’s the equivalent of saying “Because I don’t mind being pinched, others shouldn’t mind either.”

In the US, yes, but that’s not how it’s usually used in the UK.

A newbie user from the UK (and Ireland too, where it carries even less weight than in the UK, in my experience of living there) may in fact use it without a) realising the magnitude of the US connotation, because it isn’t quite as shocking over here (see the B3TA boards for example - the C word is all over that like pepper, rarely in a manner demeaning to women*), nor b) realising this board’s particular proscription of the term (yeah they should read the rules yadda). I personally wouldn’t expect them** to know this in advance, but would hope they follow the etiquette once they know it.

*Unless you mean that the word’s very nature is demeaning to women, even when not applied to women.
**Though judging from the posting history of the person in question, this might be moot.

We americans are willing to make allowances for your funny UK spelling, like centre and labour. We don’t even mind an occaisional “bit of a sticky wicket”. :smiley:

For background: Happy Poster was in an MPSIMS thread about a mass shooting in England, and said the area where the shooting took place is known for:

And one or two other things. I’m pretty sure most UK Dopers would find this to be at least in poor taste, if not offensive, considering it’s a discussion about a lot of people being shot to death. So I don’t see this as a dialect issue.


I personally don’t find that particularly offensive even in that context. However, I don’t know what a tailvan is, so maybe if I did, I would.

I was going to say exactly this, but then I thought maybe I’d be making a twat out of myself if a tailvan were something really commonly known. So I decided not to :stuck_out_tongue: But since it’s not just me, then yeah, the cunts bit of that isn’t particularly offensive - he wasn’t calling everyone in Cumbria “fucking cunts”, he was referring to a stereotype of people from there (apparently one neither jjimm nor I know, but still…)

But maybe I’m out of step with the rest of the UK Dopers - entirely possible. (Likely, even.) I didn’t bring it up so much to laud Happy Poster’s choice of phrase, but more to query the whole “I know things are different where you are, but you have to stick to our linguistic rules” tone I got from the mod note. If that’s the case, cool - I just wanted to know if it applies across the board.

To me the whole cunt/twat thing is sort of the equivalent of hearing nigger when I was growing up and traveled to the south (or spic in Texas). It’s a highly charged and derogatory insult directed at females (as opposed to blacks in general…though I recall a few instances of hearing ‘nigger cunt’ in some of my lovely travels down south). Why do I think that? Well, because that’s exactly the way it was used when I was growing up, of course.

IIRC, there was a debate on this sometime fairly recently, and I think that it was overall a head scratcher all around. Attempting to explain to people who use ‘cunt’ in every other sentence that the word is actually more offensive than ‘fuck’ to some people, and that depending on ones generation it’s the equivalent insult to ‘nigger’ is pretty difficult, since the words meaning is different depending on how one uses it and how much baggage it has. It’s like those charming southerners I recall from my youth casually saying ‘wonder what that nigger is up to’, or ‘that’s one smart nigger there, boys’, and them scratching their heads as to why I was offended.

To you Brits (or maybe it’s a generational thing), the term is just a casual insult you toss around, without any emotional baggage attached to it, not everyone else sees it that way. I don’t know that this necessarily means that the Mods need to reign in the use of offensive terms unless they are used in insulting ways outside of the Pit, but an awareness that not everyone thinks about or looks on the terms you are tossing about in the same context or with the same emotional baggage.


If it helps, I think tailvan is a typo for talivan (speed camera van).

I have to admit that my dirty mind was picturing all sorts of things a ‘tailvan’ could be, especially in the context of the subject of the thread…


Speed camera van helps! (Talivan didn’t much - but I’ve learnt a new word today, thank you!)