Contemplation: In Which Battlestar Galactica’s Expletives Confuse My Understanding of Natural Gas Extraction

Eliza and I have been watching the newer version of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix lately.  All around we find it a pretty enjoyable show (we have our critiques, but they are neither here nor there for this post).  One thing I find kind of interesting/silly is the use of the word “Frak” as an all-purpose expletive.  I get the reasoning behind this, considering the rules that broadcasting on television and radio must follow in regards to expletives (and also just in regards to public sentiment though I don’t think anybody is really confused about what “frak” is being used for).  All and all, it is just a little detail that stands out from time to time in the show, and after a while I have found I hardly notice it anymore.

However, I guess subconsciously I am thinking about it more than I had personally thought.

Thus, when I read a Mother Jones’ article’s title that said “Fracking the White House” I giggled a bit but also thought “man, that is a bit harsh.”  Note: at the time I was not aware of the proper spelling of “frak” the expletive versus “frack” the natural gas extraction procedure.  I quickly corrected my assumptions after reading the first sentence or two of the article.  While I suppose it is possible the title is intended to be punny to Battlestar nerds out there, it is quite clear that the content is really focused on the controversial means of acquiring fossil fuels.

This all stand out as interesting to me however because of the psychology and linguistics that are involved in regards to swearing.  I know that there have been various studies into the use of expletives and how they affect the human mind.  Additionally, I know that linguists have found it interesting how expletives are used in different languages.  This association, even in an occurrence of a fictitious word, becomes a complex example of how we interact with language.  I suspect that only a real naive individual would have a hard time figuring out what the word “frak” is being used for in Battlestar Galactica, but I am curious how long it is before somebody begins to actively associate the work as a swear itself, so that when they hear or read it elsewhere, their first assumption is “that is an expletive!” (Seeing as I am about maybe 20 episodes into the series, and I have been watching them for about a month, that might give some indicator).

Anyways, just some thoughts.  Hope everybody is having a good frakking day.

~ by Nathaniel on April 10, 2012.

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