Category Archives: fuck

The impact of swearing is inversely proportional to the frequency of its use

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 09.27.43

The coarsest people in Europe — and fuckin’ proud of it!

A swear word used too often, writes Dalrymple,

comes to mean no more than ‘er’ or ‘um’.

If you walk down any crowded shopping street in England,

you will not go more than a few yards without hearing a part of speech of a well-known verb, many times.

The words

do not express a specific meaning; at most, they are used for emphasis. They are meant to convey that the speaker is militantly vulgar and is not going to be deflected from his vulgarity by anyone.

The words

are not used involuntarily, as a tic is involuntary.

When Dalrymple’s patients ask him why he wants them to give up swearing while speaking to him, he hands them the prescription and says:

Take one of these fuckers every four fucking hours until your fucking headache’s gone and if they don’t fucking work, come straight the fuck back.

The more the English swear,

the smaller their verbal repertoire.

And the English

are known throughout Europe as the continent’s coarsest people.

The gentle Sikh woman

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 20.32.12She waited outside without demur, reading a book of prayers

In the ward, writes Dalrymple, was a young Englishwoman

of the slut-babymother class, whose jaw was clenched in a habitual expression of world-destroying hatred. Her glittering saurian eyes swivelled mistrustingly, on the qui vive for infringements of her rights. She exuded grievance as a skunk exudes its odour.

She had been admitted to hospital because

she had been out celebrating the night before.

Enlightenment reason turned into psychopathic unreason

In England,

celebration is synonymous with aggression and public nuisance, and she had conformed to type. The police dumped her in the hospital rather than in the slammer, where she belonged.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 20.34.20She

turned the attention of her lip to the admitting doctor, who took down verbatim some of what she said to him.

Her recorded remarks were littered with the word ‘fuck’, which the doctor rendered ‘f***’ in neat handwriting, showing that

in India, at least (where the doctor came from), there is still some sense of dignity, decorum and self-respect.

Putrid fruit borne of the doctrine of rights

The following morning a friend of the patient arrived in the ward before visiting time.

Both patient and friend were what is called in the prison ‘very verbal’. A nurse, acting on the biblical observation that a soft answer turns away wrath, asked them to keep their voices down, only to discover that the Bible has been superseded in modern Britain and that wrath turns away a soft answer.

Superseded: the book of Proverbs

Superseded: the Book of Proverbs

The nurse then told the visitor that she had to leave. Shortly after her departure under foul-mouthed protest,

the wife of another patient came. She was a respectable Sikh woman with a gentle manner, but it was not yet visiting time, and the nurses feared to provoke the slut-babymother by allowing her to stay, when they had told the slut-babymother’s visitor to leave. The nurses could all too well imagine the scene: Why am I not allowed a fucking visitor when that person over there is? In vain would the nurses point out the difference in the conduct of the two visitors; if anyone had a right to a visitor, everyone did, irrespective of the conduct of the visitor.

To avoid a conflict over rights,

the Sikh woman was asked to wait outside, which she did without demur, reading a book of prayers.


Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 11.00.07The philosophy of fuck

Dalrymple writes:

My brother once worked on a roadbuilding site. An Irish foreman, looking at a machine that had just broken down, said, ‘Ah, the focking focker’s focking focked’, which for some reason that I cannot fully explain was not vulgar or offensive at all, but funny and expressive.

Anthony Burgess has the same story, with an army mechanic taking the place of the roadbuilding foreman:

I once heard an army motor mechanic complain of his recalcitrant engine by crying ‘Fuck it, the fucking fucker’s fucking fucked.’ There you have the word used as five distinct parts of speech.

Why the most pleasurable activity known to mankind, and the organs by which it is procured, should be debased through the use of the basic, or quadriliteral, terms as expressions of opprobrium has never been adequately explained.

Fucking, it is true, can be used as a neutral intensifier in fucking good and fucking stupid, but to be fucked or participate in a state of fuckup or a snafu (‘situation normal: all fucked up’) is to be in a state of distress.Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 13.29.26 To be called a prick (though never a penis), a cunt or a twat is not pleasant. There is perhaps a fundamental puritanism in such usages, a denial of the holiness of sexual pleasure, which, of course, explains the taboo.

Words like fuck, cunt, shit, piss are not slang; they are ancient words long buried by a social decorum not so mindlessly repressive as our permissive age seems to think. Some seem to believe that there was once a sort of golden age in which no figleaf was imposed on language, but squeamishness about these four words, and others with sexual or excretory referents, goes back a long way. Shakespeare undoubtedly knew fuck and probably used it in everyday speech, but the word is not to be found in his plays or poems. Samuel Johnson once said that the two most important activities in life were ‘fucking and drinking’, but never in print. To call fuck and cunt good old Anglo-Saxon words which later propriety has expunged from the language is to ignore the total lack of documentary evidence.



— from the chapter ‘Low-life language’ in A Mouthful of Air (1992)

Dalrymple establishes — for the benefit of a prisoner-patient — his knowledge of the usage of the word fuck, its cognates and declensions, with the following example:

Here are some fucking pills. Now fuck off and take two of the fuckers every four fucking hours. And if they don’t fucking work, come the fuck back and I’ll give you some other fuckers.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 13.23.05Dalrymple observes that

if you prohibited the use of the word fuck you would reduce half of British youth to silence, an eventuality that would increase marginally the average cultural level of the world’s population.

Fuck, says Dalrymple, is

a philosophy, or at least an attitude to life.

This fucking fucker of a tattoo’s fucked me up

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 22.29.24Anthropological interlude

Among the British savages

Dalrymple runs into three men with tattoos,

  • one with Fuck off
  • one with Fuck it
  • one with FTW, which stands for Fuck the world

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 22.40.26The trio tell Dalrymple that they

bitterly regret their youthful stupidity in having had themselves thus maimed. They did it to be like everyone else.

Another has Fuck off tattooed on his forehead in mirror writing. The message, the man tells Dalrymple,

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 22.37.25tends to wake him up in the mornings when he looks in the mirror.

Dalrymple observes that some men

have the letters LTFC tattooed on the knuckles of one hand and ESUK on the other. These appear enigmatic until the two hands are joined together.

In the customs of the British, a man who is tattooed in this fashion approaches, in the public house, a lady whom he admires and puts his hands together in front of her. She is charmed and flattered, and they begin their courtship.

How Britons lard their speech with the word ‘fuck’ at least twice a sentence

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 19.23.01This is something, writes Dalrymple, that any foreigner in contact with the British

has noticed, even if his command of [the English] language is otherwise limited.