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Why is everyone suddenly using the C-word?

3 53 0
21.05.2019

A journalist from Canada recently shared a video on Twitter in which she asked people in Manchester their opinion of Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon). Two young people – one male, one female – replied immediately with the word “cunt”. The journalist was taken aback, and the video quickly racked up retweets and comments. So what’s going on here? Is the status of this notorious word changing?

Swearing is power language, a parallel vocabulary packed with emotion and social force. But its effects depend heavily on context: one person’s everyday expletive is another’s strict taboo. These differences also vary greatly across time and place. The strong religious swears in English in the Middle Ages are now mild in most places, though minced versions remain popular (jeepers, cripes, gosh).

Over time, taboos shifted from religion to sex and excretion: fuck, shit and company. Salient among them is cunt. “In the premier league of profanity,” Susie Dent tells us, “cunt has been dominating the table for over two centuries.” Yet it was not originally profane at all. It was once routine enough to appear in street names, surnames, even medical books. “In the 14th century cunt was standard English for the female pudendum,” writes Jane Mills in Womanwords. A century later it was........

© The Guardian