fuckI've seen The Words popping up more and more in magazines that once were, well, more circumspect (The New Yorker springs to mind). What a pity they don't emulate the Guardian.
do not describe this as "a good, honest old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon word" because, first, here is no such thing as an Anglo-Saxon word (they spoke Old English) and, more important, it did not appear until the late 13th century
We are more liberal than any other newspaper, using words such as cunt and fuck that most of our competitors would not use.
The editor's guidelines are straightforward:
First, remember the reader, and respect demands that we should not casually use words that are likely to offend.
Second, use such words only when absolutely necessary to the facts of a piece, or to portray a character in an article; there is almost never a case in which we need to use a swearword outside direct quotes.
Third, the stronger the swearword, the harder we ought to think about using it.
Finally, never use asterisks, which are just a copout.
Doesn't anyone remember that using Those Words tactically is far better than using them casually? My mother is a big believer in le mot juste, and when she uses a curse word, it's memorable. It's not one of those words she drops into everyday conversation - there's impact, and shock, when she says one.
I've met teachers that use that sort of language in the classroom. I've heard people I respect sounding like truckers. Don't get me wrong: I know the words, and I can use them (and have done!). But many times I catch myself and wonder, is this really how I want people to hear me? Is this the image I want to portray?
The answer is "no." Not just because I work in a school and need to Set An Example, but because there's a time and a place for certain language. Some words should not be used casually, and some words should be. These words - the ones that the NYTimes (which in almost all other respects is going downhill as a newspaper) can't or won't print - are not casual words.
If that makes me a fuddy-duddy, so be it.
Tags: curse words, language, conservative