January 18, 2019

M. J. Maddox, PhD
is the American English Doctor.
 
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Jeopardy Descends to Vulgarity

Jeopardy Kids' Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never thought to see it while Alex Trebek was there, but one of the Jeopardy questions on the 2012 Kids Week competition contained the following expression:

…kick some serious butt

I don’t remember the entire question. Something to do with a video game I think. The phrase was not in quotation marks, but a part of the question. It may have been my imagination, but I think that the children reacted as I did, a little shocked to see it in the context of a Jeopardy question.

The expression “to kick butt” and the word “butt” for rear end or behind may be very common in informal conversation, but to my ear it still sounds extremely vulgar in a context that calls for standard English. It’s too bad that the writers on Jeopardy–who are so careful to check their answers with the Oxford English Dictionary–imagine that “butt” is an acceptable word to use in a question, especially a question for children.

1 comment to Jeopardy Descends to Vulgarity

  • Oh my goodness, I agree wholeheartedly. I have actually noticed this week that many of the “rules” of Jeopardy have been relaxed somewhat. Alex has let contestants get away with answers not in the form of a question several times, for example. Is he being easier on them because they are children and is he trying to create a more kid-friendly atmosphere for them? Not sure that’s the right thing to do.

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