Stephen Fry on the Joys of Swearing.

Everybody likes Stephen Fry, right? Well, I do (see this 2008 post), and thanks to Bathrobe I can now favor you with a brief (two and a half minutes) video clip of him on one of my favorite subjects: “It would be impossible to go through life without swearing and without enjoying swearing.” Enjoy!

Comments

  1. I wonder if Hugh Laurie’s line from the courtroom sketch excerpted in the clip

    Skank off, you cloffing cuck! You’re all a load of shote-bag fuskers, so prunk that up your prime-ministering pim-hole.

    contains the first use of cuck, the slur which is popular on the internet forums inhabited by the alt-right and Pepe the Frog—or so I hear, since I have never visited that quadrant of the internet. (The intro to that Fry and Laurie episode also uses cucking.) There is probably no direct line of descent between Fry and Laurie’s coinage and the recent use by the alt-right, but I wonder if Fry and Laurie were also thinking of cuckold when they wrote the sketch.

  2. Interesting point; if somebody knows Fry, please ask him!

  3. The OED (1893) lists a single instance of cuck from 1708, and marks it obsolete. Boy, will they have a lot of work to do when this word gets revisited.

    1706 E. Ward Hudibras Redivivus I. x. 12 Not the Horn-Plague, but something worse, Had drove the frighted Cucks from thence.

    Horn-plague is not in the OED, but presumably means a plague of cuckoldry or adultery.

  4. Electric Dragon says:

    You might also be interested in today’s episode of “The Philosopher’s Arms”, from BBC Radio 4, in which the topic is Swearing. It’s up on the BBC website here but only for a week (previous series are available as a podcast but not this one, oddly)

  5. Thanks, listening to it now! (I like the warning: “Contains very strong language.”)

  6. Well, that was enjoyable. At first I thought they were going to shortchange me on the strong language, but by the end it lived up to expectations.

  7. The OED (1893) lists a single instance of cuck from 1708, and marks it obsolete. Boy, will they have a lot of work to do when this word gets revisited.

    I’ve tried to sift through Google Books for more instances, but they all seem to be false positives: dialectal or obsolete spellings of cook (mainly in the early 19th century); parts of hyphenated compounds such as cuck-quean or cuck-stool; and onomatopoeia for the call of the cuckoo.

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