Has the ‘F-word’ become acceptable or is it still taboo to utter it?
“I’m gonna say one thing: Fuck Trump… It’s no longer down with Trump, it’s fuck Trump!” announced Robert De Niro at the 72nd Tony Awards in June 2018. He received a standing ovation and elsewhere one of the most memorable lines of the late Poet Laureate Philip Larkin remains: “They fuck you up your mum and dad; They do not mean to, but they do.”
Some get upset when ‘fuck’ – a profane word of Germanic origin that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, interjection or adverb – is uttered and the likes of Ann Widdecombe, for example, consider such profanity “extremely offensive” and “morally outrageous.” Andrea Millwood Hargrave studied the attitudes of the British public to the word in 2000, however, and found it to be considered only the third worst example of severe profanity (“cunt” was considered the most severe); in Canada its acceptability (“if used sparingly and only when its inclusion was essential to [a] story”) was confirmed in 2005 when it was included in The Canadian Press’s Canadian Press Caps and Spelling guide.
In some countries ‘fuck’ is still ‘bleeped’ on television and radio and whilst smartphones generally ‘auto-correct’ the use of ‘fuck’ to ‘duck’ and ‘fucking’ to ‘ducking,’ those determined to use such profanities, get round this by adding: “Fuck fuck fucking fucked” to their contacts list. Automatic filters in online forums and blogs such as Fark.com still often replace ‘fuck’ with ‘fark,’ but the determined replace the letter ‘U’ with a ‘V.’
To assess current views, we conducted a poll on Twitter about the acceptability of using the ‘F-word.’ Though limited in response, 31% found that it was “absolutely 100%” acceptable, 63% suggested it was “in context, of course [acceptable]” whilst just 6% took the Widdecombe view and continue to find its usage “morally outrageous.”
Adding comments, one former BBC executive told us: “I find it mostly fine to use ‘fuck’ but I don’t like it when foreigners try to say it. They don’t sound natural and I really cannot abide it when people utter the word whilst sweating away in spin classes.”
An art dealer reader specifically responded with a direct comment on the matter: “Working with art handlers, I was told to use proper English when I first encountered them and that included: ‘Fuck off’ and even ‘Fuck you.’ I found this helped me get on better with them and got me what I needed done faster.”
In conclusion, it seems the ‘F-word’ is far from the most offensive thing on the planet today. A reader, who wished to remain unnamed due to their involvement in environs political, though, did come up with a truly suitable example of using the ‘F-word’ offensively. He remarked: “The only genuinely unacceptable ‘F-word’ is this… FARAGE.”