Friday, November 11, 2011

A Teen's Thought On "Foul Language" In YA

"I mean, really, darn? What 18-year-old says darn? I am not writing about the Amish."
This quote from Gayle Forman's blog post about the language in If I Stay pretty much perfectly embodies what I believe to be true about language in young adult books.

(I've been wanting to write this post for a while, but it was brought up now by a school is Missouri attempting to ban Hold Still from their school library, as well as nine other books, including one of my personal favorites, If I Stay. We all know that banning books is stupid, but when I saw that one of the main reasons was for language, I had to speak up. ((And a book being pulled for "homosexuality" is the most ridiculous crap I've ever heard UUUUGH BOOK BANNERS.)

So if you've read my blog at all you'll notice that I don't use language, so you'd think I'd be some kind of language-prude and that my eyes would widen in horror whenever I encounter language in a book. Actually, though, it's quite the opposite.

 In the past few years I've been brought up to believe that these words that society deems bad are just words when not used in a disrespectful way. I just don't swear in general and know that there are some kids that read my blog whose parents believe in swear words, and I respect that, hence the non-swearing blog you're reading. (Yeah, I've been brought up to believe that swear words aren't bad and I don't use them. SHOCKING.)

When I encounter swear words in a young adult book, needless to say, I don't think much of it, when it fits the character and/or scene. In fact, I dislike it even more when swear words aren't used when it seems like the characters are the type to actually use them.

Take a book I just read, Freak The Giant, as an example. The book features several criminals and none of them swear, once. Unrealistic, right? Right. 

Because here's the thing: when authors write, they have a voice in their head that is their characters. They don't just think, "Oh an f-bomb here will certainly spice things up!" They write their characters knowing what they'd say if they were real, and they write it, because what else are they supposed to do?

If I'm reading a book about criminals, or teenage musicians, or other-side-of-the-track teens, I'd expect language. If I'm reading a book about a twelve year old going on an adventure, or an innocent younger teen romance, or if I'd researched the book and found it didn't have language (which is what I highly recommend to those who are concerned about it), I wouldn't expect it.

Most teens use language. Even more teens do not stray away from language. I am so fed up with ignorance from adults thinking that teens are drones; that we repeat exactly what we are fed. We do not need a "watch-dog" as one of the banners referred to himself as. We are people. We are capable of independent thought. I KNOW IT'S A SHOCKER BUT IT'S TRUE I SWEAR.

Even if you don't agree with me about language sometimes making a book more realistic, I'm sure you'll agree that a book can be just as meaningful, real, life-changing, and powerful even if there is language. 


  1. If it fits the character, I don't mind the profanity in books.

    Banning If I Stay? Such idiocy. One of my fav quotes from the sequel, Where She Went:

    "It's my turn to see you through," she whispers, coming back to me and wrapping me in her blanket as I lose my shit all over again. She holds me until I recover my Y chromosome."

    This is such a great line, and would lose its impact if Adam said "...lose my stuff, mind, etc all over again."


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