In fact, I have been known to describe the word ‘fuck’ as the best word in the English language given that it is immediately recognisable and can be used across a multitude of scenarios to emphasis and intensify meaning or merely provide a more edgier gasp. It can also be used in a more loving (sexual?) context also, but that I would suggest is more open to personal taste and interpretation than anything else. Am I right in believing that it is also one of the most searched words on Google – fact fans, let me know.
Because of this, I was interested to read about Joe Kinnear’s ‘swear-a-thon’ at Newcastle United Football Club a few weeks ago and how it was subsequently dealt with in the media. Whilst I was far from offended or outraged, many others were, to the point that he has since been reprimanded by the Football Association (FA).
But whether Kinnear was right or wrong, and overlooking the myriad debates about issues of professionalism and responsibility, I am – to use a football cliche – ‘over the moon’ with Joe’s comments today. In trying to justify his 52 swear word outburst in just under 5 minutes, Kinnear said:
It’s the language I have grown up with…I’m not trying to be something I’m not. I grew up on a council estate in Watford.
He went on:
I come from a one-parent family. My dad died when I was young and my mum brought up five on a council estate…
…There were things that had to be said and I don’t know how to say them any other way than to tell them straight how it is
In many ways, I agree with Kinnear. Swearing was very much a part of my family and because of this, a significant part of my upbringing also. Almost all family members would ‘eff and blind’ (slang for swearing) and because of this, swearing became the norm with little attention being attributed to it. Consequently, hearing someone swear now, neither offends me nor makes me feel that such language should be curbed. However, there will be many others that would look down their nose at swearing (even though they do it themselves) as being indicative of someone who is ‘common’, ‘chavvy’ or ‘working class’. Might I generalise here, but these people would tend to be typically middle-class and imbued with an arrogant sense of knowing not only what was right and wrong, but also what is correct and proper. The right and proper bastions of the English language possibly.
Likewise, neither do I agree with the view put forward by some – including Kinnear himself – that the use of swear words is a symptom of a lack of intelligence. When I swear, it is because I have chosen to do so, sometimes for greater effect, sometimes just to annoy or get my message across in a more forceful or even meaningful way. It is not because I do not have the vocabulary to use alternative, potentially less useful words or phrases: I just choose not to.
So despite my critical piece a few weeks ago, ‘“It’s part of our religion…our identity…our culture”: tolerating the intolerable…???‘ questioning the motivations of those who try and justify un-tolerable actions and activities by suggesting that they are necessary and integral aspects of their ‘religion’, ‘culture’ and/or ‘identity’, I am now going to be entirely hypocritical and stand up in support of Joe Kinnear in recognising that swearing is an integral part of ‘our [my] identity…our [my] culture’ !!!
What a great excuse…!!!
This work by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Based on a work at www.chris-allen.co.uk.