The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #132499   Message #4062194
Posted By: Steve Shaw
30-Jun-20 - 01:27 PM
Thread Name: BS: Language Pet Peeves
Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
Interesting piece in the Guardian from ten years ago, making some apposite points, and including an extract from their style guide:

"We are more liberal than any other newspapers, using language that our competitors would not. But even some readers who agree with Lenny Bruce that "take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government" might feel that we sometimes use such words unnecessarily.

The editor's guidelines are as follows:

First, remember the reader, and respect demands that we should not casually use words that are likely to offend.

Second, use such words only when absolutely necessary to the facts of a piece, or to portray a character in an article; there is almost never a case in which we need to use a swearword outside direct quotes.

Third, the stronger the swearword, the harder we ought to think about using it.

Finally, never use asterisks, which are just a cop-out.


As Charlotte Brontë put it: "The practice of hinting by single letters those expletives with which profane and violent people are wont to garnish their discourse, strikes me as a proceeding which, however well meant, is weak and futile. I cannot tell what good it does – what feeling it spares – what horror it conceals."

If the author of Jane Eyre had been a tabloid reader, she might also have observed that asterisks actually draw attention to swearwords, as well as offering readers the challenge of working out the difference between, say, ****s and ******s."