15 September 2008

An Expletive by Any Other Name...

In New Zealand, the words "damn" and "hell" aren't really swear words. You'll hear kids say them, and nobody really thinks anything of it. I have to say, it was a bit of a shock to hear a six-year-old child say, "What the hell?" right in front of his parents who didn't even blink.

Then, in seminary one day, one of my students was repeatedly saying "Damn it!" when his classmates were beating him in a game. It was just so surprising to hear such a word in church of all places!

I've gotten used to it now, and it doesn't even phase me anymore. Most Kiwis don't even know that to Americans those words are considered "swear words."

On Sunday, my friend, Paula, came up to me and said, "I heard about your job. Bummer!" Then she got a concerned look on her face, "Uh... I mean... sorry... uh... I mean... Damn!"

"You had it right the first time," I told her with a smile.


JaiJai Jillian said...

That's too funny! The Scots had a similar attitude towards that type of thing when I went over there for my internship. It's definitely interesting to try to get used to it. Why to be for not slipping yourself!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Picture this: I'm at church in a tiny branch my first week in Oz. The RS President, also the District President's wife, couldn't get the tape recorder working for our meeting. What did she say? "Oh, shit."

After I stopped my eyes from bugging out of my head, my NZ comp explained to me about swear words. I never dropped a damn or hell before my mission: now I can hardly get through a week without at least one.

Oh, and watch out for the opposite problem. One evening, about two weeks green, I pushed out from a table after a delicious dinner and told the hostess I was "stuffed." She blushed scarlet and stammered while her (idiot) 15 year old daughter AND MY COMPANION started laughing their heads off. Younger people don't see this vulgarism as swearing, more like you are put out or tired or something is lousy. Older people, well, let's just say the meaning is closer to "screwed" but worse.

Jon said...

I so need to move to NZ. And you soooooooooooooooo need to change your background color. Its impossible to see the text to actually post a comment.

I'm literally going nuts over this as we speak.

Carrie said...

I so want to move to New Zealand! In college I never considered hell and damn to be swear words and then I married jon who told me I needed to stop the hells and damns. Maybe I can send Jon over there for a few months to sway him to my side!

Anonymous said...

Sherry and Eric, It was a great blg and we miss you tons! Love, Mom