Saturday, November 13, 2004

Oh dear...

Regular readers of this blog will know, from the post about John Peel, that I was once young enough to listen to Radio 1, but sadly that is no longer true. So, forgive me for being a few days behind the news, but I only got to read about "Elton John's outburst" on that station today.

Outburst?! The Sex Pistols' use of one swear word on prime time TV was daring and innovative, but that was back in the 1970s when the BBC still confined wannabe presenters with anything as damning as a regional accent to boondocks radio. Elton John using the f-word today is hardly rock'n'roll when as a nation we barely batted an eyelid at the C-word on Sex And The City. (Though, isn't it weird that I'm coyly saying "F-word" and "C-word" in this post when anyone who knows me "live" knows I swear like a trooper. Discuss using examples from the text with reference to appropriate frameworks!)

What is also interesting is the way the BBC reacted. The DJ who was interviewing Sir Elton had to keep apologising and showed an awareness that he could lose his job over this (though how serious this was, I don't know...). Does this make the BBC upholders of appropriate linguistic standards, or defenders of a hopelessly outdated past? Should anything go?

This is a perennial debate about language, but there's another question to be asked here. That is: if we are so accustomed to the F-word and the C-word that we barely register them as swearing, what words are left for us to shock with? That's a serious question... Check out the links then give us your thoughts.

Elton's Radio 1 outburst

A bloody good thing too

Out of the mouths of babes

PS While browsing about for a link I can't now find, I learned that swearing is illegal on the Caribbean island of Nevis, and that 36 of the 40 people being held in the island's prison are inside for swearing offences. Now don't say I never tell you anything interesting...


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