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Nina Bannister and Coded Cussing

All novelists face the question of whether or not to use dirty words. Such words apparently excite some readers and thus boost authors’ sales, but they also offend other readers and are constantly being banned by libraries, schools, etc.

T’Gracie and I have attempted to solve this problem by banning obscene language entirely from all our characters but one, and allowing that particular person to speak in nothing BUT dirty words. The character in question is Penelope Royale, operator of one of Bay St. Lucy’s fishing boats. Penelope’s cussing is magnificent: creative, vivid, and so effective that tough and hardened men blanch upon hearing no more than a few of her sentences. Still, we want our books in schools and libraries, and so we have deemed it proper to have Penelope use coded cussing, which is what the entire rest of the country is now using.

What is coded cussing? Well, it came about from the fact that almost everybody would like to use dirty words, but many are not allowed to do so because of various social restraints. Longshoremen and Mafia members can say whatever they want, and no one minds. But fourth grade teachers are not allowed to curse, especially in front of their students. They get around this problem nowadays by simply saying “the,” the first letter of the offending word, and then the word “word.”

For example two women teachers meeting in the hall might say:

“One of my students said the ‘f’ word and the principal heard him!”

“Oh, I bet he’s in a big pile of the ‘s’ word!”

“You’re the ‘g’ word the ‘d’ word right he is!”

These two people know exactly what words they mean, and so they get the thrill of using bad words; but they don’t actually SAY the words, and so they can’t be fired.

Is coded cussing a wonderful invention? You bet your the ‘a’ word it is!

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