Monday, 21 November 2011

The King's Sp**ch

We recently borrowed a DVD of The King's Speech, which was rated 12 due to "strong language in a speech therapy context" (I don't think I've ever seen that exact criterion before). Anyway, the language certainly was rather strong in places, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable. However, it seems I'm in the minority.

For a long time I've suspected that most people are actually quite comfortable with just about all the words we refer to as "profanities", and now a High Court judge has ruled that there should be no law against hurling obscenities in public because people just aren't offended by them any more.

As a student of English Language, I find the whole issue of what's considered "bad language" fascinating. I mean why, exactly, is the word bottom less offensive than many of it's more concise synonyms?

There's also a difference between hearing a post-toe-stub cuss and actually being sworn at.

And then there's blasphemy - the worst of the lot, and yet tolerated to a much greater extent, especially on TV.

A while ago (2000), the ASA did a research project on swearing, which makes interesting reading. One of it's main components is a rank scale of the perceived severity of specific words (if you're interested it's on page 13. If you want to avoid reading it, it's on page 13). It also reveals that 38% of people think swearing is more acceptable on Channel 4 than BBC 1, among other delicious statistics.

Also, saying "Jesus Christ" is apparently more offensive than saying "crap", but not quite as offensive as "balls".

What do you think?

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