Plain Language Commission . Clear English Standard


  1. Fall of Troy
  2. Subeditors a dying breed, says new website
  3. Plain language and the courts
  4. Deceptive language – food from fake farms
  5. Pikestaff 75 – read it now
  6. Jottings
  7. Jargon for grown-ups
  8. English to be Latin of EU?
  9. Large amount of amounts
  10. ‘The reason is because’
  11. Clichés – ‘wash down’, again
Go to archive

News & views

Taboo word not a blasphemy – vicar

[23 Aug 2013] Rather impressive defiance from the Church of England vicar who was accused of blasphemy in an anonymous letter to her local paper for sporting a bumper sticker that asks ‘WTFWJD?’, ie ‘what the fuck would Jesus do’, a variation on the popular Christian slogan ‘what would Jesus do?’.

The vicar, Alice Goodman, chaplain of Trinity College, Cambridge, refused to remove the sticker and told The Times: ‘Fuck is not a blasphemy, it’s a vulgarity, an Old English word.’ She’d put the sticker on her car because of the ‘emphatic hair-tearing quality of this world of ours’. She claimed to have driven the Archbishop of Canterbury around in the vehicle and he hadn't minded a bit.

We’ve long argued that newspapers should not asterisk-out rude words, not least because it puts the reader to the trouble of figuring out what the bleeps mean. It also requires the reader to create and speak the taboo word inwardly, which defeats the object. If the main purpose of bleeping is to prevent children seeing the controversial word in print, this purpose is defeated by the ubiquity of fuck, twat etc  in playground discourse. And no moderately competent lipreader can avoid seeing such words in almost every live sporting event.

The derivation of fuck remains uncertain, according to James McDonald in A Dictionary of Obscenity, Taboo and Euphemism. He says it is indirectly related to the Latin verb pungere, to the French foutre, and to the German or Old Dutch ficken. The main meaning of all these words is beat or strike, with a secondary meaning of copulate. McDonald tells of ‘a surprisingly large number of words, both in English and other languages, which share this double meaning combining violence and sex.’ [cont]

Pages: First | Next | Last

Yes, I accept the cookie. No, I decline the cookie. would like to place a cookie on your computer to help us make this website better. To find out more about the cookies, see our privacy policy