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Thread: Oh, my God!

  1. #1
    peppy_man is offline Member
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    Default Oh, my God!

    1) In English-speaking countries, even atheists, agnostics or secularized people say 'oh. my God!' when they face troubles?

    2) I've heard that native English speakers (probably Christians??) feel uncomfortable when they hear foreigners (probably those from other countries with no Christian background) use the expression. Is this true?

    I've been wondering these questions for a long time.
    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    Hello P/man

    In British English, "oh my God!" is a standard expression of dismay; if someone uses it, we can't infer anything about the religious beliefs of the speaker. (It can also be used to express humorous dismay, by the way.)

    I've no doubt that some (probably very few) British speakers do feel uncomfortable with the phrase, when used in everyday conversation; but it would surprise me to learn that this discomfort increased, when the person who said "oh my God!" was foreign or non-Christian!

    MrP

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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    There are some situations where a phrase like "Oh, my God" would not be appropriate. For example, you would not say it at a job interview.

    Non-native speakers are usually discouraged from using phrases like this, not because native speakers are shocked to hear foreigners say them, but because there is always the danger that you might use them in the wrong kind of situation. You should only use these phrases if you are absolutely sure it's OK. If you're not sure, don't use it. It's safer that way.

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    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    So, which phrases could be used instead of "Oh my God!"? It's so simple but I cannot figure it out! I've been living in Canada for almost five months and all I have heard is "Oh my God", Oh my Goodness", and "Holy crap" stuff.

    Best,
    Nyggus

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    Ouisch is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    My grandmother was very religious and objected if any of us said "Oh my god." (Of course, she'd occasionally say "damn", which as a kid I thought was worse!)

    Oh my gosh, oh my goodness, oh for crying out loud, etc are all alternatives.

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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    There was a recent 'winner' of a British reality TV show whose entire vocabulary seemed to comprise of the phrase "Oh my God!", so I doubt it can be offensive to that many people nowadays.

  7. #7
    peppy_man is offline Member
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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    Thank you all. I'm very happy to have received many responses.
    The story of Ouisch's religious grandmother is particularly interesting for me.
    It shows that at least some people could be offended by the expression.
    I will use the alternative 'oh, my Gosh' in front of Christian fundamentalists.

  8. #8
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    Not all euphemisms travel well. You would be looked at oddly if you said "oh my gosh!" (or indeed, "holy crap!") to a British English speaker, for instance.

    (I would commend Rewboss's advice here. Sometimes it's better to say nothing.)

    MrP

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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa
    There was a recent 'winner' of a British reality TV show whose entire vocabulary seemed to comprise of the phrase "Oh my God!", so I doubt it can be offensive to that many people nowadays.
    One of the things that irks me about the relaunched TV series Doctor Who is how often the phrases "Oh my God" and "Who the hell are you?" are used. I have no actual objection to these phrases, but they are used so often that it's beginning to annoy me. On the other hand, I admire the actors who have managed to find so many different ways to say "Oh my God" that at least it's not monotonous, but they'll soon start running out of ideas.

    (In defence, the series is aimed primarily at pre-teens, so they can't have anything stronger in the scripts. But there must be one or two other phrases they could use.)

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    Default Re: Oh, my God!

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    One of the things that irks me about the relaunched TV series Doctor Who is how often the phrases "Oh my God" and "Who the hell are you?" are used. I have no actual objection to these phrases, but they are used so often that it's beginning to annoy me. On the other hand, I admire the actors who have managed to find so many different ways to say "Oh my God" that at least it's not monotonous, but they'll soon start running out of ideas.
    (In defence, the series is aimed primarily at pre-teens, so they can't have anything stronger in the scripts. But there must be one or two other phrases they could use.)
    Perhaps they should take a leaf out of the book of the old Batman TV series from the Sixties. I think it would be quite refeshing to hear Rose exclaim "Suffering sonic screwdrivers, Doctor!"

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