A TEXT MESSAGE appeared on my phone:
“Bleep. I got a bleeping new job talking on the bleeping radio. I need help bleeping quickly.”
That’s the censored version. You see the problem? This friend, whom I shall call Jenny Bleep, cannot limit her vocabulary to un-spicy language. Legend has it that she did not cry at birth, but shot out with a bump and a curse. I could not see her surviving five minutes on live radio.
Cursing is in the news at the moment. Families in the US are complaining about a music CD handed out to children by McDonalds. They didn’t moan for the obvious reason, that it was mindless pop drivel, but because it had a BAD WORD in it.
McDonald’s replied that the song merely contained the term “looking around”, which is not illegal anywhere, except possibly in Myanmar, where visitors who look around too energetically will cause an extra five years to be added to Aung San Suu Kyu’s sentence.
But I’ve listened to the Kidz Bop track (it’s called “I Don’t Want to Be”), and the singer definitely isn’t singing “looking around”. Unless the correct pronunciation of that phrase begins with an “F” sound. Perhaps it’s a regional variant?
But McDonald’s needn’t worry. The CD, which was of no interest before this incident, is now in massive demand from youngsters. It’s still rubbish, but now it’s rubbish adults don’t want them to listen to.
If Jenny lived in America, I would send her to the Cuss Control Academy. This organization, which really exists, turns foul-mouthed people into sweet-talkers you can introduce to children (who can then teach them the latest curse words fresh from the playground).
Psychologists say the first step in cleaning your tongue is to replace swear words with innocent ones. Top science fiction writer Larry Niven makes his characters exclaim “Tanj!” (derived from “there ain’t no justice”) when bad things happen. This would be a brilliant idea except for the fact that it makes everyone sound really silly.
An article going around the internet proposes new swear words such as zighumple or jizzlewax. I couldn’t recommend that Jenny use these. They are naff-sounding and unsatisfying. No, good swear words need to be sharp, hard-edged sounds which erupt from your mouth the second someone treads on your foot.
In the end, we sat down and worked out a huge list of possible words that sounded like curse words but were safe for broadcasting use. Jenny took the list away to try them out for a few days. She came back with some fascinating discoveries. The top three most satisfying broadcast-friendly non-curse words, in reverse order, were:
2. Cow and
I tried them myself. You know what? They really work. The next time something bad happens, shout COW or POOL at the top of your voice. You actually do feel better. And when something really, really bad happens, slam your first into your desk and shout FOLLICLE. It feels great.
And it’s meaningless enough even for the next McDonald’s “Kidz Bop” music CD.