Why did fuck lose its sting? Has its diminution left us bereft of a useful, powerful expletive? If it has, is language the poorer for its emasculation? And is there an unspoken agenda that it is still rude when the speaker is working class? Or if it is used in a work of art, such as this year's Gilbert and George exhibition, The Dirty Words Pictures, 1977?
So not-on-the-list is it today, that Aitchison tells this story. "A child upset its grandma by saying 'fucking knickers'. The child's mother said, 'Don't ever let me hear you say that in front of grandma again'. The child's response? 'When grandma's here, should I say 'fucking trousers?'"