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    #1

    Strong language

    Teacher of English

    Hi everybody.

    I’d like to know from native speakers if these words and expressions are still considered as “bad language” or “swearwords”:

    What the hell are you doing?
    What the hell does this mean?
    Get the hell out of here!
    Go to hell!
    Oh hell!
    Damn!

    If so, how strong are they?
    Thanks a lot.
    WW

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    #2

    Re: Strong language

    They are mild swear words. Not uncommon on television. Wouldn't want your child saying them in school.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Strong language

    I wouldnt even blink over "what the hell."

    However, "Go to hell!" is a direct and insulting statement, or even a threat. I would be offended by that.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #4

    Re: Strong language

    [QUOTE=Walt Whitman;841032]


    Go to hell!


    NOT A TEACHER


    Some people feel that "Go to Hell!" is too strong, so they might say instead:

    Go jump in the lake!

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Strong language

    None of them is acceptable from the teacher in the classroom, however, and they are almost as vulgar coming from students.

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    #6

    Re: Strong language

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I wouldnt even blink over "what the hell."

    However, "Go to hell!" is a direct and insulting statement, or even a threat. I would be offended by that.
    Hi, Barb.

    Do you mean the expressions containing "What the hell" are pretty mild?
    If so, can you explain why?
    WW

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Strong language

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    Teacher of English

    Hi everybody.

    I’d like to know from native speakers if these words and expressions are still considered as “bad language” or “swearwords”:

    What the hell are you doing?
    What the hell does this mean?
    Get the hell out of here!
    Go to hell!
    Oh hell!
    Damn!

    If so, how strong are they?
    Thanks a lot.
    WW
    It's very subjective. I personally find none of them even remotely "bad language" and certainly not "swearing". I would be offended if someone told me to "Go to hell" but that's only because it's rude to tell someone to "Go away" regardless of how you say it.

    In addition, while I'm sure they're not acceptable in the classroom, I wouldn't have any problem with a child saying "What the hell is that?" instead of "What on earth is that?" or "What in God's name is that?"

    Most of the offense is based on the fact that these phrases are in some way religious in tone - they mention hell, god, heaven etc and some people find that words like that used out of context to be offensive.

    I don't.

  4. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Strong language

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    It's very subjective. I personally find none of them even remotely "bad language" and certainly not "swearing". I would be offended if someone told me to "Go to hell" but that's only because it's rude to tell someone to "Go away" regardless of how you say it.

    In addition, while I'm sure they're not acceptable in the classroom, I wouldn't have any problem with a child saying "What the hell is that?" instead of "What on earth is that?" or "What in God's name is that?"

    Most of the offense is based on the fact that these phrases are in some way religious in tone - they mention hell, god, heaven etc and some people find that words like that used out of context to be offensive.

    I don't.
    In most countries, if you asked a student, in front of the class, "What the hell......" you'd soon be explaining yourself to the headmaster, and hoping to keep your job.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Strong language

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    In most countries, if you asked a student, in front of the class, "What the hell......" you'd soon be explaining yourself to the headmaster, and hoping to keep your job.

    When I said "While I'm sure they're not acceptable in the classroom..." I should have added that I meant from either a child or a teacher.

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    #10

    Re: Strong language

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    Teacher of English

    Hi everybody.

    I’d like to know from native speakers if these words and expressions are still considered as “bad language” or “swearwords”:

    What the hell are you doing?
    What the hell does this mean?
    Get the hell out of here!
    Go to hell!
    Oh hell!
    Damn!

    If so, how strong are they?
    Thanks a lot.
    WW
    All the replies here to your query help to explain the ways that the quoted expressions are used and might be received.

    It's entirely due to the social context that you find yourself in. Amongst contemporaries, friends or in a relaxed social situation in Europe or America, nobody would even notice you using these expressions.

    But, for example, in the company of older people, or in a religious community, it would be unwise (and unsympathetic) to demonstrate your grasp of what some might consider 'strong language'.

    It might also be seen as showing off unnecessarily - depending on the situation. I live in Thailand and it is extremely difficult (I would say almost impossible!) for native Thai-speaking people to grasp the complexities of English. Several times I have encountered Thai people who use the same colloquialisms of native English speakers in an attempt to impress.

    Confidently saying "My God!" or "Oh sh*t!" (when the rest of that person's spoken English is poor) makes the speaker appear rude or even arrogant.

    It is certainly not appropriate to use the expressions you quote in a formal context or document. It's fine to use this in a letter or email to a friend; but I would advise you to be cautious with a new acquaintance!

    R

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