‘The trees say F you’: Why teens are cursing about climate change

Young people in Germany, Argentina, the United States, and basically everywhere walked out of school last Friday as part of the Youth Climate Strike, voicing their frustration and anger that older generations have failed to act on climate change. And their raised voices included f-bombs — lots and lots of f-bombs . Several photos of swear-filled signs went viral on Twitter. Students in Massachusetts held up a poster that said “Kiss my activist ass.” In London, one handlettered sign said “Why the actual f*** are we studying for a future we won’t even have!” Granted, many signs from the strike were on the tamer side. One gem came from a crowd-shy teen who braved a protest in Minnesota: “So bad [that] even introverts are here!” To understand why teen activists are cursing about climate change — and why their foul language has captured public attention — it helps to have a picture of how norms around swear words have shifted. Youngsters clearly have a different understanding of what’s taboo. “Profanity that’s drawn from sex, bodily functions, and religion is starting to be judged by the younger generations as being less offensive,” said Benjamin K. Bergen , a linguist and […]

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