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So f–––– cold

12 Dec 11 | Re: A question of graphology

I’m aware that the question of starring out swear words has been more or less settled – no intelligent person normally does it – but it’s still interesting to see it having been discussed in the nineteenth century. Here’s Charlotte Brontë:

A large class of readers, likewise, will suffer greatly from the introduction into the pages of this work of words printed with all their letters, which it has become the custom to represent by the initial and final letter only – a blank line filling the interval. I may as well say at once that, for this circumstance, it is out of my power to apologize, deeming it, myself, a rational plan to write words at full length. The practice of hinting by single letters those expletives with which profane and violent persons are wont to garnish their discourse, strikes me as a proceeding which, however well meant, is weak and futile. I cannot tell what good it does – what feeling it spares – what horror it conceals.

That’s in her preface to her (by then late) sister’s Wuthering Heights. And it makes most of the main points: swear if you think it appropriate, or if you’re too genteel, pick a different word; but don’t play peekaboo*. Or in the words of prominent swearing expert and obvious Brontë fan Shaun Ryder:

Do what you’re doing, say what you’re saying ... sounds good to me.

* I do make an exception when stars are used for comic effect. I’m a great believer in the power of punctuation to add to the absurdity in a piece of funny nonsense, and f*c*ing starred out fu**ing sw*ar w*rds are a nice tool to have in the box.

Posted by LINTON HEATHCLIFF at 22:48

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