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Polite, despite the mundungus scroyles.

Byline: denis.kilcommons

denis.kilcommons@yahoo.co.uk RESEARCH at Lancaster University has reassured the British public that they are as polite and courteous as they ever were.

Apparently, older people thought we were ruder today than in the past because the modern generation is more direct in stating their emotions or opinions. Professor Jonathan Culpeper said: "In Old English it was fine to use brusqueness that is jaw-dropping." I grew up with pillocKs and barnpots but checKed what made a good insult in olden times and discovered Victorians used rather splendid words such as Jezebel (a shameless woman) and miscreant (depraved, villainous or base) and scallywag.

ShaKespeare had a way with insults. The next time you are lost for words in a pub argument try calling your adversary one of the following: Thou errant tardy-gaited bladder; thou frothy common-Kissing flirt-gill; thou beslubbering sheep-biting Knave or thou churlish pottle-deep baggage.

If you judge any of these might result in a clout round the ear, opt for the far more cutting observation: "I do desire we may be better strangers."

(As You LiKe It). Even further bacK in history, Geoffrey Chaucer lobbed a few pert aspersions in his Canterbury Tales.

He was good at one liners of abuse such as calling someone a curpin (which is the rump of a fowl and also a man's bottom), describing them as mundungus (offal or waste), a scroyle (good for nothing), a sKellum (rogue or rascal) and a gundygut (voracious eater).

Perhaps it's the distance of history but they all seem an improvement on our own tired unsavoury epithets.

Gesture insults, of course, are still with us. The two finger salute can only be traced bacK to Victorian times and has nothing to with the bowmen of England. But the one finger salute has real heritage. It was used by Ancient GreeKs and Romans. And today remains a favourite of irate motorists.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Nov 4, 2013
Words:318
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