Public Discourse and standards of English are getting f—–g crude.


I’m second to no one in my love of science, my fascination with inconceivably large (e.g. my debt-load) or small (e.g. my savings account) numbers, and meaningless analogies about fitting the human race into a volume the size of a sugar cube.  Although that particular image makes me jittery, being as I am the person who’d unwittingly chuck said sugar cube into my morning coffee.  Oops!    Do what you like with the human race, Virginia, just don’t leave it lying around, OK?

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But it’s the name of the website I can’t let go of.  The website is called –and you might want to ask your kids to leave the room at this point – the website is called “I fucking love science”.

Yep.  That’s the name.  “I fucking love science”. Am I the only person whose toes are curling with shame at that title?  Wasn’t it Aunt Minnie who told you repeatedly that swear words, unless used sparingly and for a precise effect, add nothing to the conversation?  “One day you’ll forget and say that in public,” I believe were her exact words.

Now, I’m sure the author meant to convey his/her unbridled, even unhinged, enthusiasm for the subject.  They may have intended to bring science just a little closer to the masses, those “just plain folks” who look to, say, Genesis and Deuteronomy for the most up-to-date information on global warming and what to wear in the Ark.

But there was a time when standards of written English – that is to say, English that was intended for publication and general public consumption – were quite different from standards for spoken English;  spoken English itself had standards that insisted on what was suitable for a classroom and what should only be heard in the company of drunken males in the back room of a smoky dive.

Written English, although we don’t officially have “formal” and “informal” modes of address, no vous  vs. tu,  no “gnädige Frau”, has dignity, doesn’t shy away from interesting and unfamiliar vocabulary, and was something we absorbed from the constant reading of worthwhile, hold-in-your-hand, printed books.  Books that were printed because they’d gone through a rigorous editorial process, jumped through hoops, and had been judged worthy of the dead trees and leather binding.

By what process of degradation did we end up with “I fucking love science”?  Who’s this message for?   Doesn’t “love” by itself convey the sentiment?

I rest my case.  Have a disgruntled Monday.  And be sure to visit I fucking love science.  It’s really informative and chock full of interesting shit.

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