Monday, 18 May 2009

If the word fits, wear it

In the course of my writing my book on bad language (Filthy English, Portobello, October 2009), my younger son bought a cap with a word on it. I told him that a cap with that word on it might cause problems for him in public, even in Primrose Hill. He gave it to his older brother.

A few months later, we were in New York and, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I took a picture of him wearing this cap standing outside the building in which that word was first recorded — in a popular song, anyway. It’s 55 5th Avenue and now home to the Yeshiva University law school. (See the picture here.)

Then I had another thought: what if the cap had ‘sexual intercourse’ on it instead? I sent the 5th Avenue picture to all of you who are on my blog update list and asked what you thought: would it be more or less offensive with ‘sexual intercourse’ on it. Not exactly a giant study but still several hundred people. The vote was 37 per cent ‘more’ and 63 ‘less’ – though ‘twice as daft’ said one. ‘Only by the tiniest of margins,’ said another.

Next up a psychoanalyst’s joke

1 comment:

Lo Jardinier said...

Good to see your blog is back.
Is this the Fundamental Hattribution Error: thinking New Yorkers are rude when in fact they are just reading each others' clothing?
Looking forward to the latest psychoanalytic news.