Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Feck off

As we all know, swearing is not big and it's not clever. But it's something that many of us do in certain situations: pain, anger, frustration, as punctuation in a particularly dramatic story. Preston Council has decided though that swearing has to stop and have instituted on the spot fines for swearing and other antisocial behaviour (spitting, littering, dog fouling etc.).

But when is a swear word not a swear word? According to the Advertising Standards Authority, the word feck, as popularised by the brilliant Father Jack in Father Ted, is not rude. The Scotsman newspaper covers the story in more depth here. Lots of rude words, or blasphemous expressions have been toned down by swapping a few letters round. Expressions like Cripes and Jeepers are both believed to originate in attempts to avoid "taking the Lord's name in vain". So Cripes = Christ and Jeepers = Jesus. Oh Cripes, I've just blasphemed by typing those...

If you search using the blog search bar you'll find lots of useful stuff about rude words and people's attitudes towards them. As several of you are doing research into swearing and taboo language for your Language Investigations, some of this could make good background reading.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Zoe Williams has done a short article on this topic here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/dec/11/preston-christmas-antisocial-behaviour