When Kaylee McKeown won Olympic gold her comment on worldwide television became the headline. Her sister and mum were watching at home and when asked on the pool deck would she like to send a message to her family, the 20-year-old went rogue. ‘F— yeah!’ she yelled before clapping a hand over her mouth. It was, in its context, a magical and happy moment. But why do this generation of Aussies resort to using the f-word so often? If these kids had been taught to respect our language and to use its rich resources they would not talk like this. The f-word demonstrates how linguistically impoverished its users are. Not their fault—I blame the education system that has let them down. The word itself is now used to express almost any emotion—joy, surprise, anger, disappointment, etc. When people who have inherited the language of Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth can give us nothing better we know how linguistically impoverished they are: ‘I don’t know how to express myself properly so I will just scream out a meaningless word instead.’ Very sad indeed.
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Contact Kel at ozwords.com.au
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