08 Apr The “F” Word Misunderstood
I’m on a shuttle bus at the Miami Airport. Miami is a supercool place. Sunny, fun, lots of young people. Very international with the locals mostly Hispanic though. Tourist area and great work place for real models and even better for professional ‘models’ better known as hookers, escorts, sugar babies, prostitutes, and other words I cannot use among polite people, but you get the point. Lots of older men too. And older women with much younger men.
A free speech, free love kind of place.
All these people have in common two things; they love the sun and know you cannot use the “F” word in public. If you are one of those people who happens to not know what the F word is, then you are either living on a deserted island or you might not speak English. After all, there are way over 6,000 languages spoken around the world, but try convincing an American that that is even possible.
Anyway, the word I mentioned above is a bad one. To boil it down, only the very uneducated use it. OR, the EUROPEANS! (except the British, but they don’t consider themselves Europeans because they are of a much higher breed and too posh for the EU anyway.)
Now Europeans, strangely enough, speak English, but are not NATIVE speakers, which means they are most likely vulnerable to linguistic faux pas when encountering civilization across the pond, as they say. Or, the Atlantic ocean.
While most European born learn English in schools, they love it so much, they do extra homework by watching American entertainment – movies especially.
Now, if you watch American movies and are a cultural anthropologist or just into “word porn”, you will not fail to observe that the most heard utterings appear to be: S..t, J…s C….t, and F…U Man. But these are uttered mostly by bad guys who do fake bad things for the purpose of entertainment by using bad language otherwise forbidden to the average American or other Native English Speaker.
But I will tell you, once those words become part of your vocabulary, there’s no way anyone can stop you from using them – especially once you’re on the U.S, soil where you are trying to blend in to the culture.
Back to my airport shuttle. Full of mostly Americans. Me and a group of 17-year-olds from Denmark (European country back over the pond I mentioned earlier). They were speaking a frightfully strange language. The kind where you don’t know if they have laryngitis, or are always trying to clear their throats, or they just don’t like your face.
Everybody was behaving typically American. Very polite, respectful of personal space, mindful of not disturbing the others by touching them, sitting weirdly, staring, etc. Danish boys are obviously from way out of town.
I’m from across the ocean too and I spot the fresh-off-the-boat youth making weird sounds. They are talking among themselves in their most horrid of languages to the sensitive American ear (even mine that has become Americanized over the years) …when, suddenly and without any warning, it erupts.
“F..K YOU MAN.” Very loud and clear and, of course, in English. Americans freeze and by instinct they all look away.
Well, the Danish boys are not getting the response they thought they would. So they take it to the next level: “$%^&*!@# (Dutch garble) and then in a loud voice “NO WAY MAN, F…YOU JESUS CHRIST.”
I burst out laughing while understanding I’m a few seconds away from an international conflict of a religious nature, by a simple misunderstanding.
By now Americans understand what they’ve always secretly believed: Europeans are troglodytes. While multilingual 17-year-olds don’t understand how these monolinguals just can’t appreciate their linguistic performance.
I kept on laughing to myself remembering how in my first years in the United States, I’d often use the F word thinking it meant, ‘I’m your friend. I like you.’ I said F…K You to more Americans than I can remember until I was politely told that it was a big NO-NO.
The last time I heard anyone decent say it innocently was when my brother-in-law met my American husband. “F…k You Man, and Welcome to our family!”