Tuesday, July 17, 2007

today : I swear

It falls on me today to officially announce that the word PISS is not a swear word anymore. The reason I know this is that in last weeks documentary on Alistair Campbell's Diaries there were many swear words beeped out. WANKER was bleeped but the word PISS was not. The show was broadcast at 7 and 8 pm.

I've noticed over recent years that it has become acceptable to say PISS on TV and radio. The main cause of this change is that PISS is traditionally a less severe swear word in The USA than in the UK. Its a bit like Scheisse in German, which doesn't strictly translate as SHIT but is more like CRAP or POO. In America you can be pissed at something, which means pissed off and not drunk. You can also behave pissily or encounter someone who is pissy. This in a country where people never go for a piss but take a comfort break.

Of course, whilst piss ameliorates, other words will pejorate. In America people who used to say Oh My God, now take care to say Oh My Gosh. So you can encounter someone who might say 'Oh My Gosh, I'm so pissed.', unless they are appearing on HBO shows where they will wilfully use the F and C words in a high profile way, just because they can.

In fact piss appears on American TV an awful lot. Which is why Brit TV started to let it slide. Now, even the Brit usages of the word have become acceptable, to the point where the other day I heard an interview with American racing driver Scott Speed who declared that he was pissed about a crash and when the interviewer apologised for his 'fruity' language, the apology sounded rather quaint and old fashioned.

Whether I'm pissed off at this change, I can't say.

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