Monday, April 16, 2012

Le parolacce - swear words

No, before anyone asks, I'm not teaching anyone Italian swear words.

Yes, I know it's always the first thing that you pick up when you go and live in another country, I'm still not doing it.

However I will put my hands up and admit that not only do I swear more in Italian, but since I've been living here I've started swearing more in the other languages I speak too. I know, it's not a good look; but it reflects a lot about how swearing is used in Italy. I'm not saying it's acceptable, but it's certainly more acceptable than it is in the UK.

Whilst the UK has the watershed, the Italian tv and radio equivalent is the fascia protetta, the protected time slot of 4pm-7pm when programmes directed towards children and teenagers are shown. Then after 10.30pm programmes suitable for over 14s can be shown. There is also the bollino system to indicate if programmes are suitable for children. The word bollino translates literally as 'stamp' or 'sticker'; but in this case it's a symbol or icon, often round and on or next to the channel's logo, indicating a colour. Green is for programmes that are suitable for all, yellow indicating that children should be accompanied by adults, and red for programmes that are not suitable for minors.

As a native English speaker I've been shocked at seeing uncensored episodes of American reality tv shows (Jersey Shore being the one that springs to mind most) at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. The Italian subtitles would be censored, but in the original language they'd be effing and blinding all over the place, after warnings at the beginning of the show of offensive language. It isn't necessarily going to mean much to the Italian adolescents watching the programme, but I still don't like the idea that they could pick up that language and think it's acceptable.

But what's shocked me the most over the years is the radio. I've always been pretty much surgically attached to the radio given half a chance; and after years of British radio and absolutely no swearing on pain of very high fines, I used to find it a shocking to hear the vaffa bomb being dropped at around 2 in the afternoon. Of course, as in normal situations it isn't everyone, and not on every radio station, but for the station I listen to it seems to be completely normal to hear a couple of mild swear words per show outside the fascia protetta, after over 3 years here I have to admit that I hardly even notice it anymore.

It's just another way that Italy's a country of contradictions I guess!

1 comment:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, it's certainly a country of contradictions!