Sunday, July 10, 2005

George 'bloody' Orwell

I am currently reading a bloody good book by Sir Orwell called Down And Out In Paris And London, and I must say that he has some bloody remarkable things to say about a swear words in the English language. The novel, first published in 1933, recounts the semi-autobiographical tribulations of young Orwell among the beggars and scum of London and Paris at the turn of the century. This is what he had to say about the particularities of English blaspehemies:

"The swear words also change–or at any rate they are subject to fashions. For example, twenty years ago the London working classes habitually used the word 'bloody'. Now they have abandonned it utterly, though novelists still represent them as using it. No born Londoner (...) now says 'bloody', unless he is a man of some education. The word has, in fact, moved up in the social scale and ceased to be a swear word for the purposes of the working classes. The current London adjective, now tacked onto every noun, is 'fucking'. No doubt in time 'fucking', like 'bloody', will find its way into the drawing-room and be replaced by some other word."

However, even though Orwell has been straight on in his predictions with 1984, it seems he has wrongly underestimated the pulling power of the word 'fucking'... Is 'fuck' and all its denominations the Ultimate Swear Word or am I clueless about new currency swear words in our time?

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