10 Sep 2013

Attitudes to bad language relaxing

8:57 am on 10 September 2013

New Zealanders appear to be growing more tolerant of the use of offensive language on television and radio, but certain words are still considered unacceptable.

About 1500 people took part in an online survey conducted for the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The survey found little change in people's attitudes since it was last conducted in 2009, but some significant differences between now and 1999.

Broadcasting Standards Authority chief executive Susan Freeman-Greene says of the 31 expletives on their list, the top eight were considered to be unacceptable in most scenarios.

She says context is important, with some language deemed less acceptable when used by real people as opposed to actors, but more acceptable in stand-up comedy and television dramas after 8.30pm.

The words and phrases considered most offensive relate to sex, race and religion.

A professor of linguistics at Victoria University, Laurie Bauer, says some words on the list are particularly loaded, and are used deliberately to shock.

He says so-called "bad language" has become more public than it used to be.