On Swearing (lecture by Rebecca Roache)

Last Thursday’s Special Ethics Seminar at St Cross College was booked out very quickly, and the audience’s high expectations were fully justified. Rebecca Roache returned from Royal Holloway to Oxford to give a fascinating lecture on the nature and ethics of swearing. Roache has two initial questions: ‘Is there anything wrong with this fucking question?’, and ‘Is this one any f***ing better?’. (Her answers turn out to be, essentially, ‘No’ to both.) Continue reading

Linguistic social engineering?

There are a few sure methods to get people into arguments. Gender equality works well. Correct language is even more potent. Add children to the mix, and everybody has an opinion. This spring the big debate in Sweden has been about “hen”, a new pronoun intended to mean “he or she”. Introduced broadly (?) in a children’s book, it has led to a widespread debate about gender neutrality, the power over language and (of course) whether those politically correct Swedes have gone too far.

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