Thursday 6 September 2018

A Measure of Rudeness

Image result for dr syntax rowlandsonI've found something beautiful. The British television regulator, Ofcom, whose job it is to see that we are shocked politely, commissioned a study of exactly how rude rude words were. The poll was carried out by Ipsos Mori who went off and quite earnestly asked a representative sample of the Great British public what they thought about the word tits.

This is therefore the official British list of naughty words.

The results, in all their muddied glory, are available online here. They're rather fascinating, and very usefully arranged by subject. So if you were trying to mildly insult an old man, but couldn't think of anything to say, you could consult the survey and find:

Coffin Dodger: Mild language, generally of little concern. Seen as humorous, including by older participants. Some said that more aggression or specific intent to hurt would heighten impact, but not common enough for this to be based on experience.

Some of the words in the survey were previously unknown to me. I had never in my life heard of a bloodclaat or a chi-chi man, which shows that I am an essentially innocent person. I'd also not heard the term Iberian Salute, although a quick check on the Internet shows what it is (bend your right elbow, clench your right fist with the knuckles facing away from you, put your left hand on your right bicep. The French call it the bras d'honneur).

Anyhow, it's a fascinating read, and you can measure your opinion of a word's rudeness against that of the general public. My favourite line in it, though, came under Discriminatory Language, subsection Race and Ethnicity.

Taff: Medium language, potentially unacceptable. Some uncertainty outside Wales about how offensive it is to Welsh people.

It is time to end this uncertainty. I'm off on a research trip to Offa's Dyke with a megaphone and a pair of binoculars.

The perils of life in Oswestry


  1. As an Englishman living in Wales, I'd never dare to call anyone here "Taff"

  2. What a treasure of a list. I would have thought quite a few were well past their use-by date now. I'm fascinated to know what some of them mean - e.g. bloodclaat, but it's not something I want to show up on my browser history at work.

  3. I used to live in Mumbles and had a friend called Taff, it never bothered him but this was 30 year's ago.

  4. And I have just shown the above ad to a Welshman and he thought it very funny. PC gone mad Roger the Saurus.🤩

  5. What/where/when was the "watershed"? This American has never heard it used in this context. It's as if the social scientists have identified "the day the dam burst" and vulgarity became publicly acceptable all at once, which seems an oversimplification.

  6. Have we all heard of an "old codger"? Is it possible the word "codger" started as a contraction of "coffin dodger"???

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