The Anglo-Expletive

Apr 28 2012 @ 8:27pm

A study in contrast:

Anglo swearing is ornate, clever, and florid; American swearing is brutal,repetitious, and earthy. There’s a reason they sell t-shirts on St. Mark’s Place that read “FUCK YOU YOU FUCKIN FUCK.” Swearing in [the British comedy series] “The Thick of It” showed control in the midst of a tantrum, like a well-placed kick in the middle of a marital arts routine. It demonstrated that the speaker was ready to just let forth a string of invective but was powerful enough to channel it into something laced with cultural references and word-games.

In America, though, swearing tends to signal the threat of violence, the moment when coarse language gets even coarser. It’s a heightener. “He’s got his eight-track playing really fuckin’ loud” would, in the Anglo incarnation, be something like “His eight-track was so fucking loud that Helen Keller could hear it four fucking blocks away” or something.