Books, life the universe

Monday, 4 May 2009

Swear words in books

I reviewed Daisy Garnett's Cooking Lessons on here in January this year. I gave it a three star review on Amazon because I did like the format, the illustrations were delicious and some of the recipes were simple enough to try if you'd got less than a day to make them. What bugged me about the whole thing was the gratuitous use of swear words and the patronising attitude of the author to us lesser mortals who do not have a high class Italian grocer just round the corner.

I don't like swearing in normal conversation and I see no reason to put it in a cookery book (pace Gordon Ramsay). I have no problems with it in fiction where it can be very effective. Some kind soul has referred to me as a 'prissy humbug' because I have criticised the medium rather than attending to the message. I'm with Marshall McLuan on that one - the medium IS the message. In this case I didn't feel the medium - i.e. the language - was appropriate to the message and therefore detracted from it. Any cookery book is not going to get very far with many readers if it patronises them which was my other criticism of the language used.

The object of this post is not to have everyone tell me I'm not a 'prissy humbug' - because I know I'm not! It's to raise a question about whether swear words -particularly Anglo Saxon origin 4 letter versions - are necessary in a practical book such as a cookery book. To me it detracts from the 'message' if there is a message in a cookery book but others may not agree.

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