On fuck and Marmite

Un agent de police anglais a dressé un PV de £80 (120€ à peu près) contre un jeune homme qui venait d’employer le mot fuck dans une conversation avec ses potes. Le porte-parole de la police compare l’attitude du public envers ce mot à l’amour ou la haine que les gens éprouvent pour le Marmite — une pâte à tartiner salée à base de levure de bière. Ce nom commercial est, bien entendu, un emprunt au français.

Via Bystander, a blogging English magistrate judge: A youth from Kent has been issued a £80 (about 117.139019€, if you ask Google) on-the-spot fine for using “the F-word”, as they put it. Here’s the BBC news report:

Kurt Walker, 18, from Deal, Kent, said he would go to court rather than pay the fine handed out in a town park.

He said he received the fixed-penalty notice after he used the F-word to a group of friends he met in the park.

Kent Police said fixed penalty notices were just one tool to help them to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Student Mr Walker was on his way to a youth centre where he works as a volunteer when he stopped to talk to friends.

“One of my mates said, ‘What have you been up to’, and I swore when I replied,” he said. […]

“In my eyes I have not committed any crime whatsoever,” he said, adding that swearing was a normal part of the language he and his friends use.

Dover District Council’s anti-social behaviour unit works closely with Kent Police to tackle bad behaviour.

“Swearing and abusive behaviour certainly is not normal behaviour and I feel it should never be used in a public place,” said councillor Julie Rook.

A Kent Police spokeswoman said: “The public expect us to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Bystander quotes a different press report, one I can’t find online, in which a police spokesman draws a perilous comparison:

A Kent Police spokesman confirmed: “He didn’t swear at the police, he was talking to his mates [but] it was close enough to the police officer.

“It’s an offence under the Public Order Act. It’s quite reasonable to give someone a fixed penalty notice and if someone doesn’t want to pay it they can go to court.

“Some people think it [the fine] is over the top, some people think it’s perfectly reasonable.

“It’s one of those things that divides people, like Marmite.”

Now do we have to defend the honour of Marmite or the use of taboo language within one’s own social circle, be it in a public venue?

Marmite, the word, is of course a borrowing from French, where the noun marmite ([maʁ’mit]) denotes a cauldron or large cooking pot.

A small addendum, penned a few hours later: The Guardian is a paper on whose very sensible attitude towards taboo language I’ve already commented. Still, it was surprising to see in a book review by Natasha Walter (dated February 18, 2006) the word fuck employed outside a direct quote:

As Erica Jong, erstwhile celebrator of the zipless fuck, tells Levy: “Sexual freedom can be a smokescreen for how far we haven’t come.”

The book is Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy.

1 comment(s) for 'On fuck and Marmite'

  1. (Comment, 2006-02-23 06:48 )

    That’s fucking ridiculous.

    Golly, that’s fucking ridiculous.