Charting the f-word, there’s an app for that

At they mine the Twitterverse for F-bomb deployments and present them in real-time on a worl map.

At they mine the Twitterverse for F-bomb deployments and present them in real-time on a world map. There’s a whole lotta cussin’ goin’ on.

This item sort of blends “local lad makes good” with “what is the world coming to?” And if you dislike profanity, please steer clear, because that’s the topic.

As recounted by Michael Woods for the Ottawa Citizen, Carleton University student Martin Gingras created an app that tracks the use of the F-word on Twitter. According to the article:

The idea originated during a conversation the third-year computer science student had with a couple of colleagues while on a co-op stint at BlackBerry.

The colleagues were arguing about something, and eventually someone dropped a bad word. “It just really degraded the entire level of intelligence of our conversation really quickly,” Gingras said.

The software developers started thinking about how often people swear and how neat it would be to map that out. Gingras spent a weekend last month working on it, and an application was born.

Here’s the website for that app,

I continue to be amazed at the shift in what can be said in public. Times have changed, for sure.

Case in point: we haven’t had a TV for close to 3 years. After a long spell of not watching The Daily Show, the spouse set up a way to record it via some computer magic. Now we watch episodes one day later, at an earlier time. OK, offending words are bleeped out. But wow, does Jon Stewart cuss like a sailor. (Was he always that profane?) I have to say, I think he’s overdoing it. The swearing seems excessive, like an easy crutch, replacing actual words with a few choice off-color terms, uttered with varying emphasis.

Complaining about profanity raises the risk of looking like some fuddy-duddy prude. I’ve seen both sides of that. My parents and grandparents pretty much never swore. My mom’s main cuss word was “rats!” My paternal grandmother once dropped a glass bottle of shampoo while unloading groceries from the car. It shattered across the garage floor in a swath of soapy glass shards. Lots and lots of tiny glass shards. The clean up would be a real bother. “Damn” she said. I was flabbergasted. And thrilled. (Grandmother swore!!! Amazing!)

I never swore at home but learned to cuss at school, to fit in. I cussed as a young adult, but had to keep a leash on it in case the wrong words slipped out when I worked in radio and was often live on air. The spouse and I stopped cussing once we became parents. Fine young son is grown and gone, so now we cuss again. Kind of more than I want, actually. It can sneak up on you. I’d like to dial that back.

As evidence that I am not a total wet blanket here’s an homage to proper use of the F-word [strong language warning times 50] that cracks me up every time. Does anyone know who created the voice track and the accompanying cartoon? Might be something to do with Monty Python, but I am having trouble finding source attribution.

What’s your take on swearing? Is there any point in trying to curb it now that standards have swung this far?

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2 Comments on “Charting the f-word, there’s an app for that”

  1. Ken Hall says:

    My thoughts about swearing roughly mirror George Carlin’s as in: The F word is thought to have originated from the Germanic languages as do most of the so called provocative curse words of today; however, one of my favorite potential derivations is from olde English wherein it is is thought to be an Acronym for Fornication Under Consent of King. The acronym was supposedly on placards nailed to the doors of couples who had permission to have sex by order of the King.

    It is doubtful that standards concerning swearing have swung very far in a lenient direction relative to the past for the majority of the Earth’s human population, with the exception of the puritanical US. As George points out the no no words are ever in flux and defined by those attempting to distance themselves from the “commoners”.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    There are no bad words, only bad intents.
    Actually, there is a good side to swear words. They often relieve tension and they let everyone know how angry a person is without them resorting to guns, knives or real bombs to get their point across.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if all the Taliban did was to swear a lot and leave their guns and bombs at home?

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