British Swear Words

British swear words are wonderful.

They sound much more posh and poetic than their American or Punjabi counterparts. This may be because they tend to be longer. The extra letters and syllables seem to indicate that a lot of care and precision has been taken to cuss. You aren’t mouthing off in abject frustration, say those extra letters. You’re making a calm, cool, and collected decision to use bad words.

Then again, maybe not, but I like this theory.

Another advantage of British swear words is that they’re never censored. Star Movies and HBO, which revel in pressing down the mute button on the slightest provocation and will even clip frames containing an upright middle finger, do nothing of the sort when foul language comes out in a British accent. ‘Bollocks’, ‘poof’, ‘wanker’- they all remain audible and intact.

Until last night, that is, when Star Moves muted all instances of ‘shag’ during the Bridget Jones’ Diary broadcast.

I put the blame for this on Mike Myers.

As long as the word ‘shag’ had a British mystique about it, it was inviolable. Then along came Austin Powers, and made it generic. Nobody outside Britain used to use the word, much less know what it means. Austin Powers changed all that. Everyone started using it- why shouldn’t they. Four letters and one syllable- it was accessible and easy to use. And now the party’s ended.

However, the Austin Powers franchise seems to be winding down, so it does not appear likely that more Biritsh cusswords will be brought into the public domain, and then similarly muted. That makes me feel very relieved.

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