Thursday, 21 August 2008

27,999 people must be wrong - apparently

According to the BBC, the British supermarket chain ASDA, a subsiduary of Walmart, has withdrawn from sale a book for teens by Jacqueline Wilson because of a "four letter word" contained within it. According to the publisher, future editions will have the offending word replaced by the innocuous "twit".

Apparently, ASDA has sold 28000 copies and only received one complaint. Would they withdraw a brand of baked beans on this criterion? I think not. Which leaves me to wonder what the word could be. The BBC, delicately, refuses to tell us, but my guess is that it must be the most taboo word in English - which i am reluctant to even type because- being new to blogging, I fear that prudish minds might flag it. After all, it only took one complaint ot override 28000 satisfied customers.

the word of course is "cunt". Strange that the old english word denoting that organ that gave birth to all of us is considered so vile that teenagers must be protected from it. And of course, it is not as if they do not hear it and/or use it - as an insult, of course not as an anatomical term- everyday.

Life is strange


Anonymous said...

I think one could construct an entire anthropology around this word and it's effect on people's sensibilities!

Bill Bryson wrote an amusing overview of the etymology of the word in his book 'Mother Tongue'.

As they had so few complaints, the pressure on Asda must be coming from higher up and across the pond... far be it for us to read a descriptive word for the female parts in a book!

It used to be a perfectly normal word - wonder when it got stigmatised?

Anonymous said...

Brian - hope you don't mind - check my blog, there's an award for you.

Blessings, TGW

Brian Charles said...

Thanks for the award, TGW, I hope I will live up to your comments.

Back to the original post - as a mature (well, perhaps "ripe" is a better term) student i went to university 15 years ago to study English. one of my final projects was on the history of "cunt", in which I tried to tease out the reasons that it became taboo in the 1500s. I did not come to any firm conclusions and unfortunately i have lost the work in of my many moves.

I think, however, I may return to it, i have some more ideas and insights to bring -- but in the meantime, this link leads to a pretty good overview of the subject