Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gadsbobs, zounds and by gum

A piece in today's Guardian bemoans the ubiquity of the naughty "f-word" in conversation today, not simply because it's rude but because its overuse seems to have made swearing and taboo language less inventive.

The author, David McKie argues, "Indeed, since today's universal F-words have largely surrendered their old power to shock or even, perhaps, to intensify, it would be good to see some of the old expletives creeping back into the language".

So, is he right? Have we lost the power to shock each other with our uses of swearing? Are we all growing more tolerant towards previously shocking words? Or is it a more complicated story of words shifting meaning over time: some losing their impact, some gaining offensive connotations? And if he is right, should we really be returning to old classics such as "By my troth!" and "Odds Bodkins"? Or would we get looked at strangely and locked up in a "special room"?

For another look at swearing on this blog, try one of these links:
Swearing like a bloody trooper
You f***ing beauty
It is big and it is clever

Useful for:
ENA5 - Language Change
EA4C - Language Investigation

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