At some point I’m going to do a proper survey of the UK print media and its attitudes to swearing. But one of the things I appreciate about the Guardian is its decision not to “asterisk” swearwords. Even though the research shows that we do react more strongly to uncensored swearing than to “euphemistic” swearing – more on that next week! – the Guardian has taken what I think is a fairly grown up stance of accepting that swear words have force, so when they’re used they should be used judiciously and with every understanding of that force.
That said, there is at least one word that their own journalists can’t use, unless it’s in a quote, but Marina Hyde makes beautiful, if oblique, use of the sense of it today in her Lost in Showbiz column:
The shtick reaches its apogee in a six-page hymn to what can only be described as the most twattish shop on the planet. Actually, it can be described in more Chaucerian manner, but we only use that word in reported speech in the Guardian, so twattish must do for now… Loathed by most locals, according to James, the [shop] he describes is a purveyor of “tasteful objects”, which “radiates prestige”, sporting “a whole New Age massage, yogaromatherapy wing, apparently staffed by Tibetan Buddhist monks”. The car park is full of black Range Rovers, the car that more than any other indicates that its owner is a member of the arseoisie.