This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Rudery/prudery - a rant.

The rudest people in the world are not journalists, nor politicians, nor talent-show judges, nor taxi-drivers, nor even Billingsgate porters (Billingsgate is the big London fish market. I'm sure the porters are perfect gentlemen nowadays, but I'm afraid their reputation for lurid language still lingers. Mind you, which of us wouldn't get a little tetchy if we had to lug tons of slippery sprats hither and yon?). 

Anyway, there is one group of people ruder even than Billingsgate porters. Yes, the rudest people in the world are the editors of school books for children.

It's not that they use bad language (as far as I know - not in emails to their writers, anyway), or make abusive telephone calls, or draw rude pictures in the margins of their books. 

What they do, though, is to see rudeness everywhere.

For instance, once when I was writing a book for use in schools my editor banned the hero from going to the loo.

But...children know that people go to the loo, I couldn't help telling them.

But apparently the trouble wasn't that he went to the loo, the trouble was that in order to do it the hero would have to adjust his clothing. Absolutely a no-no, apparently.

That was some years ago, and I thought that by now I'd experienced more or less everything in the editorial rude department, but my most recent brush with rude editors has stumped me completely.

My latest hero's been banned from swigging off his beer.

Why? Well, on the grounds that swigged off sounds a bit rude.

Um...does it?

Ah well. It's no problem. I've suggested they use tossed off, instead.

Word To Use Today: swig. This word, in its sense of to drink, has been around as slang since the mid-1500s, but unfortunately no one is sure of its origins.


  1. Tossed off? Really? And they accepted that? Amazed is what I am. How very silly!

  2. No, sadly they didn't accept it - it was worth a try, though.

    I think it ended up as a rather muted DRANK.