Friday, December 03, 2004


Here is a civilized, courteous discussion over the nature of swearing and it's place in modern day society...

In the past few days the comments section has degenerated into a kind of low tavern, with everyone cursing like scullions. I don't want to ban swearing altogether because, done skillfully, it can be very funny; but you've got to swear right.

Inevitably, this raises the question - if you swear in the course of a discussion about the nature of swearing, in order to make a point, does that really count as a swear word? So, if you say, 'let's talk about the word, "fuck",' are you really swearing? If swear words are only offensive when they are used gratuitously, then what can be more gratuitous than swearing in the course of a conversation devoted entirely to swear words?
What is it that makes swear words so offensive, anyway?

Is there a division of the linguistic sciences which deal with swear words - something like, say, Swearology? If there isn't, there should be. Swear words can be very useful. They can turn a bad poem into a passable one:

Fucking April is the frigging cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land...


In the bally room, the blimming women come and bleeding go
Speaking of Michael-bloody-Angelo.

It's not as if we can ever get rid of swear words, anyway. I mean, imagine we decided to abolish all swear words in the English language, and replace them with other, inoffensive words? Pretty soon we'd develop a whole new swearing vocabulary.

And what's wrong with swearing, really? It's a natural part of life, and everybody does it. Popes shit, nuns piss, and princes swear:

...Albert Edward, the Prince Wales, was shot by an anarchist and said, "Fuck it, I've taken a bullet."

What's your favourite swear word? Mine isn't really a swear word at all, not by modern standards: "Bloody hell!" It's straightforward, to the point, and it's as Australian as meat pies and beer. Anyway, I've put a new poll up at the side on this topic. Vote now!


Lioness said...

I say bloody hell all the time - it's a dead British English giveaway. Had no idea Australians used it that much.

TimT said...

You say it all the time? It's a British thing?

Oh, BLOODY H... er... ZOUNDS!

Email: timhtrain - at -

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