Giving a s#*t

Language changes. Everyone knows that, right? And the way we use language changes. Previous generations would probably be shocked at the amount of language we use today that they certainly considered foul.

A student asked me the other day, “How do you say ヤバい in English?” (we were having a mid-term assessment). I asked him if he wanted the “clean” versions or the more colloquial versions that his English-speaking peers would probably use. He, of course, asked for both.

This leads me to the use in this video and this movement (sorry) of the word “shit”:

The ad works because “to give a shit” means to care about something. And when you use it in the negative, it’s really quite strong, meaning you really, really don’t care about whatever it is you’re talking about.

I suppose many people of  all generations will still find the word “shit” offensive (so much so that if you see it in print, you’ll likely see it written like the title of this post, or some variation). But the word has been around for centuries, and it wasn’t even considered impolite at the beginning of its usage:

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.22.43 AM

Language changes, right?

I will never encourage students to use foul language and will continue to remind them that there are situations when you really should not use such impolite and colloquial language.

But it does make for a provocative ad.

All this over a simple four letter word.

  • What do you think of this ad, this app, and encouraging people to be philanthropic in this way?
  • Would you say that access to toilets and sanitation in general is a basic human right?
  • What do you think about learning swear words in foreign languages?

This ad and app remind me a little of that website Free Rice, where you play games in order to donate rice. But with this game, you’re not actually donating your own money.


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