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Watch your mouth: Hanoi seeks to fight public swearing

Watch your mouth: Hanoi seeks to fight public swearing

Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 12:26 GMT+7

With more and more Hanoi residents from all walks of life willing to show off their potty mouth, the city’s administration has requested relevant agencies to work to clean up language among its citizens.

The Ministry of Education and Training and its culture counterpart, and the local administrations of districts and towns in the capital, must work out measures to reduce foul language, the city’s deputy chairman, Le Hong Son, has said in a dispatch.

These measures must “minimize the uncultured behaviors at schools and in society,” the official requested.

The move came following a number of cases in which foul-mouthed youngsters, students and celebrities were caught using vulgar language in public, according to the Hanoi administration.

This is not the first time authorities in Hanoi, also known as the “capital with thousands of years of civilization,” have attempted to ‘correct’ the behavior of its citizens.

In late 2014, the municipal administration also tasked the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism with collecting feedback from the public to develop a code of conduct, to be applied in local public offices and residential communities. The set of rules was then scheduled to be issued this year.

In an interesting coincidence, authorities in the U.S. city of Arlington, Virginia last weekend passed an ordinance ruling that those caught swearing in public will have to pay up to $250, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

The bid to fight potty-mouthed behavior in the Vietnamese capital city, however, will face some hindrances, according to some culture researchers.

“Even though the document is intended to do good for Hanoi, I don’t think it can really be realized,” writer Nguyen Ngoc Tien told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday.

The document is not a mandatory request, and it mentions nothing as to how an utterance will be deemed vulgar, or what punishment the foul-mouthed may face, Tien elaborated.

Associate Professor and Doctor Bui Quang Thang, from the Vietnam Institute of Culture and Arts Studies, also said it will not be easy to punish those with a potty mouth in public.

“Such a request can only be enforced in public offices, where few people use vulgar language,” Thang said.

“Swearing is now a fad among some young people and it is impossible to educate them just by a document.”

A more effective solution, according to the expert, is to raise the self-esteem of people so that they will watch their language.

“In Japan there are signs that say anyone who litters in public is from the countryside, which indeed affects the self-respect of people,” Thang said, suggesting that Vietnam should follow the model.

Doctor Nguyen Tung Lam, chairman of Hanoi’s educational psychology association and principal of a local high school, said the swearing ban will not solve the root of the problem, and only encourage students to break the rule.

“Bans and penalties are necessary, but what matters is changing the awareness of the youth,” he said.

People swear on streets and in supermarkets in front of kids, which creates the misconception that it is normal to have a potty mouth, Lam said.

“We should show students that using proper language is a cultured behavior which reflects their personality, then they will know how to change it in a positive way,” he added.

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