Friday 14 March 2014

I say, chaps! What century are we in?

John Howland, a metal detectorist who I am sure is only interested in "saving history" yet who curiously blogs on a page displaying a Metal Prices feed, has attacked Paul Barford, an archaeologist, in a recent post ("On the Subject of (Rancid) Blogs …") and quoted a post by Barford. But Howland has bowdlerised the quotation thus ...

“Prof Giuliani observes that one of the sexual positions depicted is  copied from an Arretine depiction of [explicit deleted] copulation, but the artist applied it anatomically incorrectly to [explicit deleted] copulation, thus (it is suggested) giving the forgery  away. (This logic is surely only watertight if one assumes that an ancient artist depicting a homoerotic scene had actually practised [explicit deleted] him/herself.)”

The three "[explicit deleted]" bits replace the words "vaginal", "anal" and "anal sex" in Barford's original text.

Not sure if I had woken up in another century, I had to pinch myself. I rushed to check the calendar. Yup, we are in the 21st century - but I have no idea what century Howland is stuck in. Is he trapped in some puritanical 1920s time-warp?

In Howland's Billy Bunter time-capsule, words like "vaginal", "anal" and "sex" are explicit. Oh crikey! Oh crumbs! That young Barford chappy has been using naughty words! Oh dear, will Barford be put in detention, made to stand in the corner and wash his mouth out with soap, caned, expelled?

Meanwhile, those of us in the modern grown-up world know that adult authors (such as art historians and other academics) have been using adult vocabulary to describe acts and anatomy for a very long time - presumably since they assume that their readers are also mature adults rather than a pack of giggling prepubescents. I'm surprised that Howland, as a saviour of historical artefacts - doubtless with a vast library of academic books to back his cause, is still in a state of innocent shock.

In addition, even everyday language has moved on considerably since the days of Billy Bunter. Real expletives such as "fuck" are now commonplace. Language has never been static; it is a fluid medium that changes and evolves with each new generation.

But dash it all, old chums! Perhaps an outdated attitude to language goes a long way to explain why some people also have a similarly outdated attitude to conserving heritage. Is it time to join the 21st century?


Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading that... well posted...!

David Knell said...

Thanks, Steven. You have to laugh sometimes. If I took some things in life too seriously, I'd crack!



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