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to think dawn french could have chosen a different term to use in her book? Mong is just a bit too offensive.

(29 Posts)
grumpypants Tue 05-Jul-11 16:06:04

I can't keep reading it. My cousin has Downs and I find it too offensive. The teenage daughter keeps referring to friends as 'mongs'. I know no insult is acceptable, and characterisation etc etc but it's not such high literary style that this could be acceptable.

Maryz Tue 05-Jul-11 16:19:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Goblinchild Tue 05-Jul-11 16:21:22

I agree, she's an intelligent woman and should have thought about her language more carefully. It's one og those words that I find unacceptable in any context, along with retard and spaz.

TrillianAstra Tue 05-Jul-11 16:21:54

Don't know what you mean about high literary style - surely the point of characters in books is that they behave like real people: often badly!

Does the teenager use the word when adults can hear? Is she ever told off for it?

piratecat Tue 05-Jul-11 16:23:18

i started that book and got bored within 2 pages.

crap book and no yanbu.

Goblinchild Tue 05-Jul-11 16:24:21

Is it fact or fiction, this book?
Is she using nigger as well?
I remember her talking about coming home and finding someone had written racist graffiti on her door with shit, and how horrible and vulnerable it made her feel.

BabyDubsEverywhere Tue 05-Jul-11 16:25:15

I agree, i dont use (well i try bloody hard not to, breaking a life time of bad habbit is hard though!) any of these disablist (?) words, but in truth it is only since comingh on here and actually thinking about why a word of that origin is worse than saying 'shit' etc

In real life i dont actually know anyone who is offended by such words. Infact I think im the only person who i have noticed not to use such words where i live.

Dawn needs to use mumsnet more obviously smile

grumpypants Tue 05-Jul-11 16:26:24

trillian - I mean I am more forgiving when it is a really good writer and characterisation is spot on and some non-PC stuff is essential to inform the reader - in this case, it's just a rubbish version of a stroppy teenager.

So far its a kind of running commentary in each character's head.

I may not get far enough to see if the kid gets told off......

MadYoungCatLady Tue 05-Jul-11 16:26:35

Depends really on the character in the book - if the character is based on one of those delightful types in RL who actually behave like this, and the reader is meant to dislike the character, its not like the author is saying this type of language is acceptable, but unfortunately it does happen in RL.

Tanif Tue 05-Jul-11 16:26:49

Bear in mind the daughter is 17. At 17 my friends and I would also refer to people as 'mongs' without ever associating it with downs syndrome. The book is intended to portray a stroppy teenager as just that: a STROPPY TEENAGER. I'm not sure it would work if she called them 'terribly annoying, rather dimwitted cads'. Besides, Peter/Oscar has those kind of insults earmarked already, does he not? Can't have two literary types in the family, it would make for a boring book. Teenagers say offensive things every hour of every day, if you pretend your darling teeangers would never say something so offensive, eavesdrop on a few of their conversations...

In response to Trillian's comment, and to elaborate on it, Dora never says it in front of her parents and instead uses 'wonk'. Just stereotypical teenage behaviour, which is what makes the book so charming and funny. Keep reading, especially for Peter/Oscar's sessions with Noel!

allosaurusrex Tue 05-Jul-11 16:30:02

YANBU to find it offensive and stop reading it. YABVU to expect her to use a different word. It is a character in a novel (I presume - you don't specify the book) - it might not be "high literature" but I'd hate to live in a country where we censored fictional characters from saying things we find offensive.

I always find it completely bizarre when people get het up about the offensive vocabulary of fictional characters (especially on TV/films) when portrayals of violence, including sexual violence, are so prevalent. Why are offensive words worse than showing someone punching someone in the face? If both are fiction what's the problem?

MadYoungCatLady Tue 05-Jul-11 16:30:46

ISWYM about the characterisation - if it was hard-hitting fiction, and using this type of word enlightened the reader as to how horrible some can be towards disabled people, I could see the reason behind it.

If it is just a teenager spouting off, using a word that really shouldn't have a place in society, its rubbish and dont bother reading!

lottiejenkins Tue 05-Jul-11 16:36:51

Havent read the book, dont think i will now either!!

BeerTricksPotter Tue 05-Jul-11 16:38:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

grumpypants Tue 05-Jul-11 16:42:44

yes - that's what I thought BeerTricks - just not much thinking in it, kind of dashed off a bit. It's not the use of the word by anybody creating a character, it's more that this seems to be the first word she's thought of that's a bit rude. In the same way she uses 'like' all the time.

BeerTricksPotter Tue 05-Jul-11 16:47:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

takethisonehereforastart Tue 05-Jul-11 17:11:18

I haven't read it but perhaps it's still serving a good purpose.

Although it's not a 'high literary style' it may still reach a lot of people who haven't thought about the casual use of the word but see it being used by a character who is not all that likable and make them want to distance themselves from it. Perhaps she intended to 'hold up a mirror' in the hope that someone would see themselves in it and change their ways.

Perhaps if that is the case it will be more affective in a less than high literary book which is written by someone the reader recognises.

But YANBU to be hurt and upset or angry because of it when it is something and someone so close to your heart.

Shoesytwoesy Tue 05-Jul-11 17:14:32

yanbu thanks for the warning as I won't read any of her crap.

Pendeen Tue 05-Jul-11 17:18:12


Your attitude is entirely reasonable.

Why should you (or indeed, would you) keep reading somethig you found offensive?

"Unreasonable" would be, trying to stop other people reading something because you found it offensive.

latitude Tue 05-Jul-11 17:18:23

YANBU sadly that term appears to becoming widely used again, my brother used on Saturday.

drivemecrazy63 Tue 05-Jul-11 17:28:08

i have not read the book i find this type of phraseology unaceptable too , having said that it used to be ( as i think dawns a similar ae to myself) the type of word that kids when i was at school did call each other in RL so if it was meant to be a mean character in this way that your supposed to dislike perhaps its realistic , i have a DS whos ASD and i over heard a teen comming out of the school talking about the kids that go to the autistic school as Retards i was very offended too and complained to the HT he acted like i was just over reacting shock now thats much more offensive than the girl saying it in the first place...

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 05-Jul-11 17:37:02

YANBU. I read that book last week. I did raise an eyebrow at it. Do persevere, it does get marginally better.
I didn't like the Peter/Oscar charachter at all. He really got on my tits.
The end is slightly predictible too.

LilBB Tue 05-Jul-11 17:45:45

I did not know that mong was in any way derogatory to Downs Syndrome people. We used that word all the time at school. I thought it meant ugly or a bit dim. I don't use the word anymore as I thought it quite a childish word. I feel so bad for using it now. I certainly would pull up my child if I heard her say it.

JoySzasz Tue 05-Jul-11 17:49:56

I don't find her funny or clever at the best of times.

I find her childish,so it s not a surprise to me that she would use it.

However,I guess it was intended to be from the mouth of a teen ...

Not much of an excuse though wink

JanMorrow Tue 05-Jul-11 18:04:49

You're entitled to be offended but it's not like Dawn French is calling people that, a character in a book is.. surely the character's use of that language is to illustrate that she is immature and a bit insensitive (I've not read it).

In literature, language is used to build up a character, we learn things about them through the language they use (thank you a-level english lit) so I think YABU to expect to not find anything offensive in any book.

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