Created By: Unknown Troper on September 5, 2008
Nuked

Did not do the bloody research

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

This is where an American writer uses an expletive associated with "international" (that is to say, British and Commonwealth English), usually in an effort to make a character seem more salty and "regional".The reason I'm adding this is that sometimes when this happens the writer doesn't seem to realise the expression in question, no matter how many times we've heard it in real life, is still considered bad language.

In Britain, Australia, New Zealand (South Africa seems to have it's own rich slang vocab all to itself), words like "w@nker", "bugg*r", "to$$er" et al, while they might sound strange and amusing to American audiences, are still profanity. They are words you don't say on television as much as the more familiar "f*ck", "$h-t" and so on. That's not to say they're NEVER said, and "bugg*r" seems to be becoming more and more acceptable as a deadpan response to mishap, but they're usually not.

When these words are used in a work that features a lot of swearing anyway, there's no problem and no trope. However, when these words are in a piece where the language is otherwise fairly mild, and where the character in question isn't established as being otherwise, it creates a fair amount of dissonance for those who are used to hearing the word. It's as if Sergeant O'Hara on the 1960s "Batman" TV show talked like a Quentin Tarantino character for one line before reverting to "...as I live and breathe..".
Community Feedback Replies: 38
  • September 5, 2008
    Unknown Troper

    In spite of the suggested title, "bloody" isn't considered especially strong language to most people, although this can vary.

    2 examples: -In the webcomic "The Order of the Stick", Durkon remarks about Dryads "Aye, those leafy wankers have broken many hearts" -In the Lois Mc Master Bujold novel "Memory", Miles Vorkosigan is said to have "buggered the [stunner] cartridge" to improvise a grenade. Also he describes Impsecs security recording as having been "buggered" when he finds evidence of tampering. Nowhere else in Bujold's books to we find this sort of expression.
  • September 5, 2008
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Tosser isn't that bad, really. But it's still mostly an adult expression because of what it's referring to.

    Um... I've never really encountered this sort of thing. The only thing that bugs me is when an American writer writes a British character who talks about "pants" and "gasoline" and "candy" because it's just... confusing.
  • September 5, 2008
    Arivne
    Some lists of media uses of these words at IMDB Search Quotes:

    As an USAian, I've noticed that "w@nker" is sometimes used in Real Life as a mild slang word in the the U.S.
  • September 5, 2008
    Micah
    Spike's two-fingered salute in Buffy probably qualifies. There might be some other examples buried in Getting Crap Past The Radar, but it's too long for me to want to wade through right now.
  • September 5, 2008
    Bisected8
    Wanker technically isn't a particularly strong profanity. In the UK the only word that's considered universally offensive by the majority of people is the four letter word which begins with C and rhymes with "punt".
  • September 5, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    It doesn't have to be universally offensive, just out of keeping with the tone of the work or character. The OOTS example stuck out like a sore thumb because it's the only borderline offensive word in the entire strip.

  • September 5, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    British words are funny.
  • September 5, 2008
    Jordan
    It seems to me more like at least some British insults are easy to use in American shows because they either aren't offensive/their meaning isn't thought of here. On the other hand, in the Layer Cake book and to a much larger extent in Trainspotting, the characters pretty much use the "c-word" every other sentence, often not as an insult to another but just as normal speech. Obviously, this isn't very likely to be used in American media.
  • September 5, 2008
    Iphigenia
    It is actually true that British people tend to be far more relaxed about swearing than Americans, at least in my experience. Of course, this varies somewhat by age and social class, but certainly none of my friends or work colleagues would think twice about saying 'wanker' or 'tosser'. (However, nor do we say them every five minutes just to prove how British we are.)
  • September 5, 2008
    BlackMageJ
    Bollocks is another good one. Especially when the Faux-Brits mess it up and say 'Bullocks' (Spike's done that at least once, as I recall.)
  • September 5, 2008
    BobbyG
    Most of the time it doesn't matter, because as people have said, most of these words aren't considered particularly offensive in the UK anyway, where profanity is generally more widely acceptable (Brits would not be offended by the use of words such as "damn" and "hell" in a children's series, for example). The word "shite" can cause problems, though, because some Americans seem to regard this as a quaint Briticism, whereas in Britain, it's basically the same word as "shit".

    Quite apart from being often out-of-character, sometimes you see British characters in American works using British words in a context where they would never be used by any real British person, causing unintentional humour, although that's hardly exclusive to profanity.
  • September 5, 2008
    DonQuigleone
    The same can be said of Ireland too, though are speech is more frequently rendered as Oirish, for instance noone in Ireland says "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" or "Begy and Begorrah" or anything you might hear while watching The Quiet Man. We find The Theme Park version of Ireland found on most US shows quite entertaining, and quaint.

    You can get the inverse too, where mild words in one country are considered severe in the US due to perceived similiarities. This could apply to the word Feck, which is basically never used in US shows, but is reasonably common in Ireland
  • September 5, 2008
    AK47x2
    Heh. I Thought It Meant someone getting really angry about somebody not having done the research.
  • September 5, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    I've always been quite thrown by the term Fan Wank, as, much like the Order of the Stick example above, there's usually discord between it and the tone of the environment it's being used in. Yet I'm rarely offended by swearing (and swear enough myself) so it's more about the bizarre clash of politeness level than the word being used.
  • September 5, 2008
    Wyvernil
    Some of it may be related to Getting Crap Past The Radar, too.

    Censors are less likely to put their foot down over 'foreign' expletives than local ones, so writers may slip some grittiness past them with British curses.
  • September 5, 2008
    pawsplay
    From watching British TV and knowing a handful of Brits, it seems to me Brits are actually far more comfortable with the C word than Americans. I cannot imagine myself, or anyone I know, saying, "What a cunt I am," after making a mistake at work, for instance.
  • September 5, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Lina: Someone clarify for me, does this refer to American writers who are writing dialogue for British characters? Or just American others who use words like "bloody" and "wanker"?

    If it's the latter, this is not a valid trope. Those words may have originated in British English but they've migrated over, and neither of them are particularly obscene here.
  • September 5, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Sorry, that should be "American writers," not "American others."
  • September 5, 2008
    EtherealMutation
    I remember some controversy over an episode of The Simpsons where Bart used some British swears. It was aired as is in the United Kingdom, prompting some minor outrage.
  • September 5, 2008
    ShayGuy
    For a different culture's take, see the Cluster F Bomb from Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai.
  • September 5, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    There was a big stir over an ad promoting Australia to English tourists using the phrase, "Where the bloody hell are you?", all words more or less fine to say on TV here.
  • September 6, 2008
    BobbyG
    ...then the ad ended up being aired in the UK anyway, when it was realised that the majority of Brits didn't find "bloody" offensive anymore, either.
  • September 6, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    It's all relative. In Britain in the 1960s "bloody" was considered almost as offensive as "fuck", which caused clean-up-TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse to blow a fuse when it was used in the Sit Com Till Death Us Do Part.

    But it's probably its repeated usage on TV that finally weakened its potency, until today it's about as offensive as "bother". There may be a doctoral thesis in there somewhere.
  • September 6, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    A somewhat meta example from 30 Rock: After the supposedly British Phoebe accidentally used an American accent when she got upset and Liz called her on it, Phoebe picked up her British accent again and replied "I don't know what you're on about, you daft wanker."
  • September 6, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    bugger was deemed to be not offensive in australia some years ago, as it was used in a car ad and the matter was taken to court/ arbitration/ complaints body. and the "where the bloddy hell are you?" ad was not only a very expensive load of crap, but wasn't it also initially banned in canada for "hell"?
  • September 7, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    "I've always been quite thrown by the term Fan Wank, as, much like the Order of the Stick example above, there's usually discord between it and the tone of the environment it's being used in. Yet I'm rarely offended by swearing (and swear enough myself) so it's more about the bizarre clash of politeness level than the word being used."

    -This guy's figured it out. This is NOT, repeat NOT about whether a word is "offensive" or "acceptable" to you, me, him, or the average American, Australian or Mongolian.

    It's a given that different words are considered more or less acceptable in different cultures. This already comes under Values Dissonance (or is it Moral Dissonance? Who can tell?). This is different in that this involves a writer borrowing a word from another vernacular without realising how strong (or alternatively, how silly, or how wrong) it is in that culture. This can create a mood dissonance (or, as the guy said above, a "clash of politeness level") when the work is read by somebody from the culture he took the word from.
  • September 7, 2008
    CodeMan38
    Sonic Rush Adventure got a 12 rating in the UK partly because the (American) translators gave one character, who speaks in an exaggerated Australian accent, a line involving the word "bugger". Oddly enough, it still got a G rating in Australia...
  • September 7, 2008
    Indigo
    • Truth In Television: The BBC America team gave out T-shirts at my job, reading "SNOG" "WANKER" and "BOLLOCKS". The definitions were Americanized. "Wanker" was defined as a "a jerk" and "Bollocks" was defined as "to mess up". During the dinner my team took the BBCA team to thank them for coming, after a few drinks, the real definitions of the word came out. And the next morning, the management team was running around like chickens with no heads because there were 300 people wearing their WANKER and BOLLOCKS T-shirts to work.
  • September 7, 2008
    Darktalon
    Speaking of BBC America, I believe they ran an advert that went "Bugger. Roger. Wanker. Shite. Find out what they mean before the censors do."

    None of these words are considered as bad as the F-word and similar, at least not these days, and they can be used in moderation before the watershed. Often as stand-ins for the worse words. Radio is less strict than TV, but you're still advised not to swear too heavily before 9 pm.
  • September 7, 2008
    Conqueso
    • The creators of the "Broadway" musical [title of show] coined a charming little term for its fans: [tos]sers. I don't know how well British fans react to that.
  • September 7, 2008
    Sen
  • September 7, 2008
    dupreewith2es
    Avatar The Last Airbender is called Avatar the Legend of Aang in the UK. I had no idea "bender" was that offensive.
  • September 7, 2008
    PaulRobinson
    I don't know, I always thought the only reason that radio stations wouldn't play "Too Drunk To F---" by The Dead Kennedys (the word is not bowdlerized in the title) is because they didn't like the group, not for any objection to the content of the song.
  • September 7, 2008
    KillerRabbit
  • September 7, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    ^That is the only trope title I've even seen to make me laugh hysterically for a good half minute. Made Of Win.
  • September 7, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    OK, we have SOME examples, although I might have to rewrite the premise quite a bit to allow for deliberate examples.

    Silly question, can we launch? How DO we launch?
  • September 7, 2008
    Epiblast
    There's a button in the bottom right-hand corner of this YKTTW's frame with "launch" on it. Pressing it launches the article.
  • September 7, 2008
    WVI
    What's with the fucking censor bypasses?

    >_>
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qyab5absvdvq7fcerdb2wdr0&trope=DidNotDoTheBloodyResearch