Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Inglorious Bastards

Far from being an attempt to drag this blog down to even greater depths of depravity (see last post), I just need to make a couple more points about the inappropriate/appropriate use of certain swear words, and the difference is usage and acceptability between various cultures and nations.

It is interesting that the only real support I have had from fellow bloggers in my defence of the 'C' word (note that I am coying down for the sake of other's sensibilities), comes from an Australian, and an Australian woman to boot.

Ozzies have brought the art of swearing to previously unreached heights, and it seems to be part and parcel of the overall armoury that they use so well in verbal humour. I think that the Ozzies are world leaders in vitriolic, put-down humour and I love them for it.

I had a friend (sadly now dead) who could not abide the use of the word 'bastard', because he was brought up as an orphan in a children's home and later adopted. It was difficult to remember not to use it in his presence.

The Australians have turned the word 'bastard' into an everyday one (even used by the prime minister) and it is also used as a term of endearment there. I have heard that there is an 'Easy Start' product for car engines there called 'Start Yer Bastard', but I haven't had that confirmed.

There is a famous and true story about the 'Body-Line' cricket tour of Australia in the 1930's (?) when the English captain goes to the Australian captain in the dressing room, to complain that one of the Australian team called one of his men a 'Bastard'. It went as follows:

English captain knocks at the door of the dressing room, and Ozzie captain opens it.

English: "One of your men called one of my men a 'bastard' on the pitch, and I demand an apology".

Australian turns toward the rest of the team in the dressing room:

"Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?"


  1. Being born 'out of wedlock' always was normal, and now is again. I'm sorry your friend was so upset by his lack of married parents. Even in our younger days, such things were still shameful. When my youngest son was at primary school he and a friend were the only two in their class to have two married parents.

    The word 'bastard' is a handy one, and it's 'translation' no longer anything to do with illegitimacy.

    I like your cricket story; I wonder if it really happened? Sounds right!

  2. You're on a roll today!
    I get tired of people getting wound up about 'words' in the grand scheme of things what are they getting offended about? I'm offended by injustice, paedophiles and such things, not words.

  3. By the way; what makes you think you've been ostracized? I've seen no venom.

  4. There is no venom, but look at the list on the right. Who said I'd been ostracized? Who is not upset by injustice and paedophiles? What are you saying? All I am trying to do is put a bit of humour into a simple analysis.

  5. You certainly do put humour in to the analysis. My other comment was really more for the other post where you suggested that you offended somebody with the 'kent' word but I just think some people are to easily offended by swear words when there's surely other more important things for them to be getting offended over, that's all. x

  6. Oh, I see Sarah. I'm going to name Molly Golver as the one who appears to have disappeared. That is a shame for me, because I was really warming to her. Oh well, win some, lose some.

  7. I think certain words become popular as insults more for the way the sound than for their actual meaning. Right now, I've noticed the phrase douchebag is making a comeback. I doubt if most people using it even think about what a douchebag is . It just sounds great when said with the right amount of scorn. I'm pretty sure cunt is one of those words too. Why on earth anyone lets themselves get offended by this stuff is beyond me.

  8. They only carry on being used as insults BECAUSE people get offended by them, Bonnie! Douchebag - that's a good one.

    There was - quite recently - an insult which came from London's East End, with gangland implications. It has to be said in a strong East End accent for full effect. The funny thing about it is that it is probably because the word 'cunt' is used so widely, that it has lost some of it's impact, so this insult is a desperate attempt to be more offensive. It's "You TOILET!"

  9. The word 'bastard' as an insult has definitely lost some context lately ... but I do feel for your late friend's hurt.
    Do you have the Old Bastards Society in England?
    Good to see the Australian Ambassador for the Yarts is still doing the rounds. He's even got a clean shirt on!

  10. We've got a 'Boring Bastards' corner in our pub, Sarah T.

  11. Hah! I sort of like toilet. Kind of reminds me of when I was growing up. Some kids moved in up the street whose worst insult was "You're a real TOE!"

  12. Interesting, Bonnie. 'toe' is short for 'toe-rag', which is the piece of cloth that you draw through a gun-barrel to clean it. It ends up smutty and filthy.