Australians and Bad Language: Crikey!

As some of you may know, I have a no swearing policy on this blog at BobinOz. But today, I want to talk to you about swearing.

It was quite apparent when I first moved to Australia, that Australians have a slightly more relaxed attitude to what you might call “bad language”. Certain words seem to be acceptable to use as part of everyday language, for example, #8&!@1 and *%@#!!.

Whereas words, like !!@#}{!! and %%$##! are frowned upon when used in public, just as they are in other countries, like the UK and the USA.

So I suppose in many ways the kind of language you’ll hear on the streets and at barbeques, or when out and about, isn’t too different here to what you’re probably used to where you live.

But here’s what is different.

I don’t know who regulates advertising here, but I do remember a big brouhaha over an advertising campaign suggesting you can have longer lasting, you know what, wink wink.

But then when researching the ban, I discovered you had the same hullabaloo in England.

Here, some slightly dodgy campaigns have gone through okay, and I’m just not sure they would have done back in the UK.

First up, I want to start with the most subtle of advertising messages which, to be fair, is quite amusing. I happened to be staring inside my toilet roll tube the other day, as you do, and this is what I saw…

Inside a toilet rollLet’s take a closer look….

Loo rollIf you can’t read it, and I hope you can if you click on the image to enlarge it, it actually says “Quilton Loves Your Bum”.

Good ol’ Quilton! Thanks!

I’ve allowed that one through, I don’t think bum is swearing, although I prefer bottom.

Moving onto a much less subtle, in fact a blatantly blunt message, this is an advert for a bottle-o that I noticed when I was on holiday in Tasmania.

bottle-o adOkay, the headline is tacky; a little bit of a “Carry on Camping” kind of innuendo, isn’t it? But where are they? Well, this is how they put it….

bottle-o adSubtle as a piano falling down the stairs.

And finally, because it’s Friday, here’s a video, although it is only a video of a radio message. This is a campaign that was very much active when I first arrived in Australia. It’s a good idea, it’s trying to educate people not to throw their cigarette butts out of the car window.

A very sensible and short 35 second message and one that everyone should adhere to. It only takes one cigarette butt to start a bushfire.

So, here’s the campaign…

Visa Assessment Service
{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Mercury April 5, 2016, 2:22 pm |

    If you don’t like the way we do things, you always have the option of going back to wherever it is you came from and leave the moral dilemmas to the people that live here are are more than capable of doing something about it if we choose to. It’s quite tiring to have foreign moralistic views constantly shoved down our throats. I didn’t invite you here, you came of your own volition, so shut up or go home.

    • BobinOz April 5, 2016, 9:30 pm |

      Ah, a member of the ‘go back to where you came from’ crowd; we don’t get too many of your lot in these parts. Always amusing to hear your one track philosophy. Thanks for taking the time.

      • Chris December 11, 2016, 8:50 pm |

        Yeah, typical small minded response. Its unfortunate, but not surprising, that you did not get a more intelligent, constructive response.

        • BobinOz December 12, 2016, 7:25 pm |

          Fortunately for us all, this kind of thinking is the view of the minority. Cheers, Bob

  • Linka June 14, 2013, 1:45 pm |

    Agreed, conversation is one thing, putting it out there in the media for everyone, kids especially, is… I don’t want to use terms like “wrong”, but at least unnecessary.
    Though it’s consistent with Australian media’s validation and perpetuation of the Australian bogan culture. This wasn’t swearing per se, but remember that Subway ad from 2010-11: ended with a guy on the beach holding a sub, saying “It’s still good but.” Appalling. I LOVE Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but it seems especially prevalent in Queensland so I’m glad I grew up elsewhere where I wasn’t exposed to this… I would even advise against moving to Qld if you have young children because of it :/
    And I’ve heard bogans using the C word in jest and profusely. I certainly hope that doesn’t make its way into the media!

    • BobinOz June 14, 2013, 9:14 pm |

      No, I didn’t see that advert, and I’m trying not to imagine it.

      As for swearing and those bogan’s, I haven’t found it too bad around here and I’m pretty sure my young daughter hasn’t been exposed to it too much. People who use that kind of language are in every country though. I remember waiting to cross the road in my home town in the UK, Southend, at the same time as another family.

      Now, the father did cross the road, probably when he shouldn’t have, but his wife and two young children stayed put. From the other side of the road you would not believe what the father shouted to his wife and kids which, in plain English, was “when are you going to cross the road?”

      The language though, I mean, gosh!

  • Tyler December 27, 2011, 3:02 am |

    Oh and government ads are some of the worse for bad language ironically. So that’s probably where we get it from. I’ve heard on one government ad ‘you’re a bloody idiot’ (I think it might have been a drink-driving ad) – i.e. ‘if you drink and drive, then you’re a bloody idiot’. Also there’s the famous (at least it’s famous here) ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ tourism ad that I think offended the rest of the world we were trying to get to come here lol.

    • BobinOz December 29, 2011, 10:11 pm |

      From what I have seen of Australian pollies lately, “you’re a bloody idiot” represents a well constructed sentence.

      • Tyler December 29, 2011, 10:43 pm |

        Bunch of parrots they are. I think at least a few years ago (even though I don’t like John Howard much) they could at least manage more than repeating a sound byte endlessly.

        • BobinOz January 2, 2012, 9:39 pm |

          Right now, I’d vote for a parrot if it got Julia Gillard out. It wouldn’t have to be a particularly clever parrot either, just as long as it can say “no carbon tax under my government”.

  • Tyler December 27, 2011, 2:54 am |

    I agree the ‘c’ word is probably one of the most offensive for Australians – I think I’ve only ever really heard it when someone wanted to cause the most offense possible. Although very occasionally it’s used in jest.

    Damn I sound way too formal for an aussie. No aussie ever says jest. And I really don’t want to capitalise aussie, even though I feel the intense need to, because I know I’d look very unaustralian. We don’t like intellectuals here. JK. It’s okay to be an intellectual as long as you don’t sound like one; unless you’re a uni student and then it’s a bit more acceptable to sound like a smart arse.

    Frankly I hate censorship, like saying ‘the “c” word’ or ‘s**t’. That really annoys the s**t out of me hahaha. At least we’re not like our American cousins and censor the s**t out of everything.

    • BobinOz December 29, 2011, 10:08 pm |

      Wash your mouth out with soap and water! Don’t ever come on this blog as an Aussie, sorry, aussie, and use the word “jest”. Outrageous!

      I’ve noticed the “c” word has appeared in a few major US movies lately, so I assume it’s not such a seriously bad word in America. Although I understand the word tw*t, and that’s not twit, is seriously offensive.

      The “c” word is quite regularly used in the UK too, but now that you mention it, not sure I’ve even heard it mentioned here.

      I’m not big on censorship either, but I do think we have to protect our children from this kind of stuff.

  • Rory September 30, 2011, 7:11 am |

    Hi Bob,

    Love your Blog and have read it for a few years.
    We are an Irish family and have recently moved to Sydney on a 457 and are settling in.

    I have found Australians to be a curious lot when it comes to swearing. Like you say some words like “b*gger” seem to be fine in general conversation while other words are a no no.

    My wife is a very down to earth person, who is more bloke like than lady like in her manner. She hates going shopping and tends to avoid groups of women because she cant engage in the girle conversation . She would rather watch a Chelsea FC match at 2am with me than do that. She does swear though, she doesnt mean to offend, its just a general thing she does.

    The culture back in my area of ireland is to throw in the odd expletive and nobody thinks anything of it. I swear a lot less than my wife though..he he..


    p.s I have found that the rule number one in Australia is as bad as the “F” word is…. never, ever ,EVER use the “c” word

    • BobinOz September 30, 2011, 10:05 pm |

      I suspect you are right about that. Those heavy swear words you mention are quite rare to hear in public, although they will pop up in small groups of people who know each other well. On the other hand, swearing lite version, as in b*gg*r and s**t are almost part of everyday language.

      Anyway, glad to hear you are settling into Sydney, very different from Ireland. Incidentally, the first holiday I ever went on with Mrs BobinOz was Ireland, we had a great time. If ever you miss it, pop over to Tasmania for a break.

  • Gordon September 25, 2011, 7:47 pm |

    Perhaps I have a different take on what is offensive , although having said that I do take care with the words I use around women and especially children .

    Language has developed the words and incorporated them into society , and the human race being the complex beings we are has added inflection , context and innuendo to modify the intent of the sound .

    Example , a greeting between two old buddies may involve a “profane” word which would have completely different context if it were spoken in anger against an adversary .

    A word is just a sound or vocalisation for which we have attributed meaning , so let’s make up a new word just for the exercise . Our word is – Kufardlenom . Is it offensive ? No , because it has no meaning . Could it be offensive ? Yes , if we decide it is and give it offensive meaning .

    There are very few words that an adult English speaker has not heard and learned the use of , that makes those words part of mainstream language , like it or not . Most kids learn those words before high school.

    Readers may ask themselves , looking back in your own memory , just when did YOU learn that sh*t ?
    Think about it.

    Somebody using a “bad” word that might cause offense for some , it doesn’t bother me . Suicide bombers blowing up innocent people , THAT bothers me.
    Species extinction . That bothers me.
    Habitat loss . That bothers me .
    People using bad language . Not bothered.

    • BobinOz September 26, 2011, 8:57 pm |

      Well that’s exactly right, to be careful when in the company of women and children. Women (well, some women) and definitely children should be protected from a lot of this inappropriate language.

      Recently, somebody “liked me” on Facebook, but their icon, which appeared periodically in my little Facebook likes box was actually a graphic of the most offensive four letter word we have on this planet.

      What is it with some people?

      I think people who wear similarly offensive T-shirts in public should be arrested, charged and fined. We need to protect our children.

      Other than that, swearing definitely has a place and use in the right surroundings. How else would we cope when we accidentally hit our thumb with the hammer? Or when my computer freezes and shows a blue spinning circle forever when we’re in a hurry?

      Perfectly good examples of when to say “!!@#}{!!” – but only when your children and certain women are not in earshot. Otherwise, as you say, there are far worse things to worry about.

  • Sean September 18, 2011, 8:26 pm |

    Or what about the polysulphide adhesive made by Evo-Stick, it’s called ‘Sticks like Sh*t’! That’s what it’s really called and can be found in most hardware stores in the UK.

    • BobinOz September 19, 2011, 10:22 pm |

      Crikey! It’s happening in the UK as well! Again, I googled it, yes, that’s what it’s called. Evo-Stik should be ashamed! But maybe they think the * in the word makes it okay. Unbelievable!

  • Leigh T September 18, 2011, 12:11 am |

    Hi Bob, this one tickled me when I saw it in a newspaper insert. In the UK you may have well used a tin of ‘Easystart’ to get your help get your car going. The oz equivalent, the very aptly named ‘start ya bastard’!

    • BobinOz September 19, 2011, 10:19 pm |

      WOW! I just googled it, yes, it really is called that. What are they thinking? Does nobody think of the children these days?

      Thanks Leigh!

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