Rough talk isn't smart

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 August, 1996, 12:00am

Foul language is becoming far too common among young people these days.

Consider the following scene: an impatient-looking teenage girl is using a pay phone. She is calling her boyfriend who has failed to turn up for a date.

The boyfriend answers. He is still at home. A swear word escapes the girl's lips. 'Are you coming out or not? I've been waiting two hours!' She is shouting into the phone and everyone hears her. But she doesn't care.

It is nothing new to hear teens making free use of foul language. What worries parents and teachers is that youngsters are beginning to accept such language in their vocabulary.

They do not realise that the way people speak reflects what they are. Nor do these youngsters appear to feel any shame at using four-letter words.

In fact, swear words come to them so naturally and flow so freely that if they had to leave out all the ugly words from what they say, they would be speechless.

What causes this worrying trend? There are several reasons.

Firstly, our society has become more tolerant of vulgarity. In movies, bad language is part of the dialogue.

Some people even consider it a sign of maturity, or manliness, to use bad language.

Some media, like TV and radio, may have stricter censorship regarding crude language than the film industry. Still, there are many programmes in which such language is used.

On the other hand, the use of decent language is regarded as old-fashioned.

Take a look at some of the teen idols of today - singers, film and TV stars.

They may not be exactly foul-mouthed, but many of them do not seem very well-spoken either. Some Canto-popstars are rather crude in their choice of words.

Another movie heart-throb, Chow Yun-fatt, is often cast in films as a gangster or a prisoner and, accordingly, as an actor he adopts that language when playing those roles.

Another reason is the fast pace of life in Hong Kong, which gives rise to friction between individuals.

Under stress, people easily burst into angry speech. Foul language is associated with anger. When people get into a heated argument, they may swear at each other.

Teenagers are constantly exposed to this kind of language, and many pick it up.

It is time teens were taught that using bad language is degrading.

They have to realise that swear words are not acceptable in civilised society.

They should learn to vent their anger in more acceptable ways. Raymond is a former student of SDB Ng Siu Mui Technical School