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KhiaKarma's avatar

Do you say or write inflammatory curse words when quoting...

Asked by KhiaKarma (4328points) January 27th, 2011

….or do you paraphrase or abbreviate the word?

I had to make a report to the local child protective services; and there was racial term and a curse word within a quote I needed to include. I wanted the quote to be accurate, but it felt strange.

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11 Answers

poisonedantidote's avatar

A quote is a quote is a quote, if you change any part of it, no matter how small, it is no longer a quote. At least not to me.

jaytkay's avatar

I would not quote exactly. It’s not in my nature to use the N word or even write out a**hole.

But you know the words I am referring to, the meaning is conveyed.

You would not be wrong using the exact words, but I understand the inhibition.

KhiaKarma's avatar

I started off trying to paraphrase by saying “black guy”,but I thought the words were important to show the intensity of the statement. But yeah, not really in my nature.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree a quote is a quote. You can put in $%# and alike to kind of demonstrate you are uncomfortable, or aware it might offend people. Like I might write F$&K on facebook for instance. But that is in jest.

Since the context of what you were writing was that you were concerned to begin with, I think it is clear you find the language offensive. I think quoting the exact words is proper.

Berserker's avatar

If I quote, I tend to leave it exactly as is. And if I needed to quote something in order to report it, and other material, to some kind of authoritative figure, I’d leave it intact, especially if it catered to the severity of what I’m wanting to report.
I think you acted wisely.

Sunny2's avatar

It depends on the listener or reader. In writing a report to authorities of some kind, I would definitely use it, with quotation marks around it. To people who might be sensitive to the specific words, I might not. In general, I think there are no forbidden words and I’ll repeat them, but usually without much feeling behind them. Well, maybe an occasional emphatic, “Shit!” when I have a sudden mishap. I am a lady.

augustlan's avatar

In your situation, I’d definitely use the actual words. In a more casual setting, I’d alter them.

Bellatrix's avatar

If it is a direct quote, you have to use their exact words. As Augustlan said, this is especially true in the context you are describing.

Seelix's avatar

I agree with those who’ve said that you should definitely use the exact quote in a situation such as an official report. Even if it’s not in your nature to use those particular words, it’s in the nature of whomever you’re reporting, which is the most important part of what you need to convey in this context. You’re doing the right thing by making the report in the first place; repeating them to an official in the report is what ought to be done.

If you feel uncomfortable saying the words, just think about how uncomfortable whomever the target was at hearing them. You’re in a better situation than they are, and helping to make theirs better by reporting it.

Kardamom's avatar

In your particular situation I would have used the exact expression, but at the same time, let the person know (to whom I was speaking) that I felt very un-comfortable using those terms.

In my regular writing, such as here on fluther or in e-mails to friends, I tend to use spelling euphemisms like sh*t. I don’t like to hear or see or use curse words, but I know they are sometimes necessary. I just try to use discretion.

VS's avatar

If you change the user’s words, you have softened their intent. By saying “black guy” instead the offensive n word that was apparently used, you have made the speaker a better person with that change. Use the original words and you restore the offensive intent behind those words. You do not become a bad person for reporting exactly what was said or written, but actually become a more accurate reporter. If those words make you uncomfortable in reporting them, you can always quantify the statement with a parenthetical (the speaker’s words, not mine) disclaimer.

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