WHAT did that being just say? Profanity in SWTOR

We all know what profanity is. None of us were born yesterday. But…what is it exactly? And why does it exist in Star Wars? Star Wars is a fanciful setting, filled with fanciful beings, so why have such a gritty, not very nice aspect to it?

According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profanity “Profanity are words, expressions, gestures, or other social behaviors that are socially constructed or interpreted as insulting, rude, vulgar, desecrating, or showing disrespect.

The original meaning of the adjective profane (Latin: “in front of”, “outside the temple”) referred to items not belonging to the church, e.g., “The fort is the oldest profane building in the town, but the local monastery is older, and is the oldest building,” or “besides designing churches, he also designed many profane buildings”. Over time, this meaning changed to the current meaning.

Other words commonly used to describe profane language or its use include: cursing, swearing, expletives, dirty words, sentence enhancers, cussing, blasphemy, and irreverent, obscene, foul, indecent, strong, pejorative, choice, bad, or adult language.”

Profanity has most likely existed for as long as long as spoken language has. It is not always a bad thing. Interjections are used in sentences to indicate extreme emotion. Also according to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interjection In grammar, an interjection or exclamation is a lexical category used to express an isolated emotion on the part of the speaker (although most interjections have clear definitions). Filled pauses such as uh, er, um, are also considered interjections. Interjections are typically placed at the beginning of a sentence or in a sentence by themselves.

The word “interjection” literally means “thrown in between” from the Latin inter (“between”) and iacere (“throw”). Interjections are generally uninflected function words and have sometimes been seen as sentence-words, because they can replace or be replaced by a whole sentence (they are holophrastic). Sometimes, however, interjections combine with other words to form sentences, but not with finite verbs. When an exclamation point is not needed, a comma can take the place.

Interjections are used when the speaker encounters events that cause emotions. The emotions are often strong (surprise, disgust, joy, excitement, enthusiasm, etc.), but are not necessarily so (boredom, irritation, mild surprise, etc.). However, several languages have interjections that cannot be related to emotions.

The point of this language lesson is that profanity is probably one of the few things that can be recognized in almost any language. It is almost universal. Now, we might not understand what someone says that is profanity in another language, but likely we can get the gist.

It is worth noting that some of the better known science fiction series had profanity that resonate even today. Battlestar Galactica, both the original series and the newer version, had ‘frak’. Example: ‘That frakking piece of frakking junk just frakking frakked up’. Farscape had ‘frell’ which filled the same role, being profanity that would not anger anyone. It is obviously profanity, but it is not any that anyone would know, and it does not call into question anyone’s ancestry, beliefs or any of the other aspects that are usually impacted by profanity.

Star Trek, as it was originally envisioned, did not have profanity. They were supposed to be beyond that. But then, the Klingons came along and they had to have some form of insults for everyone. Calling someone a ‘P’tak’ who is not a Trekkie will probably just get you an odd look. A Trekkie may or may not reply in Klingon and possibly draw his dagger or Bat’leth. Or they might just laugh, depending on the Trekkie.

But in Star Wars, why would we want profanity? Profanity is not nice. But then again, many of the situations in Star Wars are not nice. But at times, being polite is better than being insulting. After all, would you call the real Darth Vader an ‘***hole’ to his face?

I didn’t think so.

Profanity adds a level of realism to the game. Real people, when they drop a wrench on their foot, generally do not say ‘Oh darn that hurt’. Well, not any of the real construction people I used to work with anyway. What they had to say in that kind of situation was not for any kind of online forum anywhere. Many people react in stressful circumstances with profanity as a stress reliever or a distraction of sorts. Soldiers in particular had a reputation for being profane, and it is one that if fairly well deserved. I once heard a master chief petty officer in the United States Navy curse for three solid minutes, without repeating himself. He had cause, mind you. A lower ranked seaman had done something dumb and put civilian lives in jeopardy, mine included. From the dawn of history, soldiers have used profanity to express displeasure at situations, officers or orders. Only in recent years has there been an attempt to curb the use of profanity in the ranks, a more politically correct military, which is an oxymoron if I have ever read one.

Profanity is seen a lower class thing, but that is not always the case. Anyone can use profanity, but it is not usually accepted in the higher levels of society. For instance, there had better be a very good reason for a President say, so speak something profane during a live TV broadcast.

In some cultures, profanity is more accepted than others. For instance, some parts of the Maritimes of Canada seem to have the F-word as a normal figure of speech. It shocked the heck out of me the first time I heard a six year old talking that way and his mother leaned over to me and said “It’s okay, that is just how we F-ing talk up here.”  You could have knocked me over with a feather. It is not insulting; it is just part of how they talk. That kid had no clue what it meant. It was just part of how he had grown up. My own mother would have literally washed my mouth out with soap at that age for saying that. She did it to my sister for that exact word.

In Star Wars, it is supposed to be a family friendly series and it shows. DarthDerriphan on the TOR forums actually put together a list of profanity that was used in the movies, shows, books, comics, etc. Swearing in a galaxy far, far away… It’s a long list. It helps add character to various beings in the Star Wars universe. They can act like real people.  Real people get emotional, get angry and say things that they sometimes regret. But sometimes not. Jabba the Hutt calling someone an ‘Echutta’ is obviously not a compliment. Boba Fett calling Han Solo ‘Son of a Barve’ likewise.

It adds another level of immersion to the game, to the story, when the characters act like real people. For instance, in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, Joker is NOT politically correct, but he more than makes up for it in piloting ability. If he drops profanity all the time, no one minds, because he is the greatest piloting things since sliced bread.

I personally think there should be a language filter for any game that children (Under the age of 13 when they likely know all of the words and more) will play. But I am old fashioned. Or am I?

What do you think? Profanity in Star Wars or no?

Image courtesy of: http://blastmagazine.com/2010/08/04/dj-qbert-joins-dj-hero-2-lineup/