curse words in essay?

<p>Hey guys I'm including a direct quote from someone in my essay. The problem is that it includes numerous curse words. I have replaced the last letters of each word with asterisks - do you think there will be any problems?</p>

<p>The quote qoes something along the lines of "D<strong><em>!! D</em></strong> S***!!! .... etc" How would the UCs, for example, look at this? It's a priceless quote so I don't want to change it if I don't have to.</p>

<p>Thanks.</p>

<p>im sure at a school like Cal Berkley it wouldnt be much of a problem. am not firmilar about the others though</p>

<p>The essay should convey to the committee something important about what sort of person you are. If you wish to convey that you are the sort of person who uses curse words a lot, even on formal writing exercises submitted to strangers, sure - knock yourself out. Curse away.</p>

<p>If you have any doubts at all about how it would be viewed, don't do it. Personally, I think it's a bad idea.</p>

<p>Thanks for the responses.</p>

<p>"The essay should convey to the committee something important about what sort of person you are. If you wish to convey that you are the sort of person who uses curse words a lot, even on formal writing exercises submitted to strangers, sure - knock yourself out. Curse away.</p>

<p>It's not like as if I'm saying this to the adcoms themselves. It's a straight quote from someone I met as I was volunteering.</p>

<p>^^Right, but the fact that you would use the quote yourself says something about you. If a daily newspaper wouldn't use the quote without editing it in some way, I wouldn't either. But that's just me.</p>

<p>do you really have to quote it? Why not just say "He cursed at me very colorfully" etc.? I can't see a good way to work in that direct quote...</p>

<p>Don't use the curse words. Just say that he cursed at you.</p>

<p>Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words
Writing prose,
Anything Goes. </p>

<p>"Anything Goes"
Cole Porter 1934</p>

<p>However, I wouldn't use bad language in a college essay. There are better ways of showing what you want to say.</p>

<p>I disagree with everyone else in this thread. Profanity has an important, irreplacable role in our language and our literature. Refusing to shy away from a few "bad" words shows an intellectual honesty and courage. </p>

<p>Obviously the type of school you're applying to will affect how it's perceived. I wouldn't apply to Messiah with a stream of profanity in my essay, but most other schools I think would find it refreshing as long as it is used effectively or within a quote. </p>

<p>Despite how I feel about profanity and its essential nature, all the dissent in this thread highlights the variability in how profanity might be perceived. In any case, it's risky, but if you feel it's valuable to your writing, do it.</p>

<p>Oh, and I just remembered. I have a copy of 50 Successful Harvard Application Essays (2nd Edition) and the very first essay uses "s***" (except with the 'h' and 't' uncensored). Note, however, that the word is particularly effective within the context of the essay, which explores the value of practical knowledge when the writer is unable to flush a toilet in a sticky situation. Here, the word serves two distinct purposes. </p>

<p>The key is to use profanity well if you're going to use it at all. Even if you use it well, be aware that there is some calculated risk involved.</p>

<p>Also check these threads out:
<a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-essays/754629-curse-word-essay.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-essays/754629-curse-word-essay.html&lt;/a>
<a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-essays/624768-curse-words-too-risky.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-essays/624768-curse-words-too-risky.html&lt;/a>
<a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-essays/262018-argh-son-wants-use-curse-word-essay.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-essays/262018-argh-son-wants-use-curse-word-essay.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

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<p>Yeah, and it also shows a limited intellect and lack of creativity and dexterity with the language to effectively communicate the same ideas without resorting to language that many might find offensive.</p>

<p>@coureur</p>

<p>Toni Morrison uses profanity prolifically. Do you consider her to have a "limited intellect and lack of creativity and dexterity with the language?" After all, that Nobel Prize in Literature hanging on her wall doesn't at all prove her authority over language.</p>

<p>


</p>

<p>Please read his post. He wants to use the words to quote someone else.</p>

<p>gmitil10: People curse in their college essays, but too often it's just for shock value. Make sure that the quote is serving a real and important purpose in your essay, otherwise leave it out.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Yeah, and it also shows a limited intellect and lack of creativity and dexterity with the language to effectively communicate the same ideas without resorting to language that many might find offensive.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Um. Yeah, how 'bout not? I would actually argue the other way around, that if you limit yourself to "safe" words in writing, then you're showing a lack of willpower (and confidence?), especially if you're talking about fiction-writing in third-person limited, when you're supposed to get into your characters' heads and not your own.</p>

<p>Anyways, to the OP: I actually cursed in my essay. Not too much, but yes, a little. It was written in first-person. The curse was my own, but it was in the narrative, not in the actual dialogue. It wasn't used for shock value; it was used for authenticity. Make what you will of that. It's your decision.</p>

<p>@coureur
English is a wonderful language as it is; why should we limit ourselves just because some people get offended? People have a right to be offended.</p>

<p>@gmitil10
Though I can't say how the admissions committee would react to something like that, I would have no problem with someone who cursed in an essay as long as the context was appropriate. Curse words are words; they only stick when not used properly (of course, it's harder to use them properly) - if you think you can pull it off, go ahead (it might not be the best idea, but if the effect of the curse word is important, take a shot).</p>

<p>I actually remember a line in a Stephen King book: something about not giving a 'flying f*** at a rolling doughnut'. That had me laughing for a few minutes :P.</p>

<p>While this is an interesting discussion of language and its usage, I'm not sure it helping the OP make his decision.</p>

<p>As others have pointed out, when it comes to cursing, audience and context are everything. In New York, I've heard the "F-Bomb" used as a noun, verb, adjective and most amusingly, an adverb. But what flows trippingly off the tongue on the streets of Manhattan will get a different reaction in Provo Utah.</p>

<p>For the OP the real question is one of risk and reward. Is the risk of possibly offending an admissions councilor worth the perceived benefit of a more "colorful" essay? That the OP felt the need to ask the question obviously shows that he/she is concerned. So let me suggest the OP answer the following questions:</p>

<ol>
<li>Is the quote absolutely necessary to the essay?</li>
<li>If yes, will the desired impact be appreciably weakened by ""-ing out some of the letters?</li>
<li>Is the quote really *that
insightful?</li>
<li>Are the curses truly that offensive? I'll be damned if I can think of a four-letter curse starting with "D" that would really get anyone into trouble. Of course I'd recommend staying away from the four-letter "S", "F" and "C" options.</li>
<li>Finally, are you the type of person who will second guess themselves if you use the curses and then get rejected from the school? If so, then they're probably not worth using. If not, then you aren't really risking all that much; after all, would you want to attend a school so easily offended by what you consider to be an insightful observation.</li>
</ol>

<p>If you answer those questions I think you'll know how to handle the quote.</p>

<p>I found the multiple exclamation marks after each of the three profanities to be somewhat annoying and to show less creativity than the profanities, themselves. Using the words in a quote is alright as long as the words help greatly to convey a strong point.</p>

<p>
[quote]
2. If yes, will the desired impact be appreciably weakened by "*"-ing out some of the letters?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Oh, dear God, please don't "<em>" out the letters. If you're going to censor yourself, censor yourself all the way. If you're going to curse, just curse. It's not as if anybody doesn't know what's getting "</em>"-red out anyways, and "*"-ing out just looks horribly amateur. Same goes for any form of "#$%#^" censoring.</p>

<p>Also, I agree with the multiple exclamation points. Use one. If necessary, italicize the words. But don't use more than one at any given time.</p>

<p>These points of view are interesting. I wonder, which of the posters are young adults and which are "older" adults? I wonder if that has any bearing on the answer?</p>

<p>I'm an "older" adult. I do not think you should use profanity in a college essay. Anyone else?</p>