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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 01:51 GMT
Academic swears by language shift
Wayne Rooney
Rooney has been blamed for helping foster a "swearing culture"
A cultural commentator says the growing trend of swearing among celebrities is part of the evolution of language.

Ellis Cashmore, of Staffordshire University, was responding to concerns that footballer Wayne Rooney was among those setting a bad example.

It follows a claim by a teaching union official that a culture of swearing is being reflected in classroom speech.

Professor Cashmore says it will be of concern if it can be shown that pupils' vocabulary is shrinking as a result.

Chris Howard, South Wales representative for the National Association of Head Teachers, said on Wednesday that Manchester United star Wayne Rooney's recent verbal attack on a match referee was being emulated by some students in their dealings with teachers.

Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver have also come under fire for the language they use on television.

Children's vocabularies

Professor Cashmore said: "There are some times when a swear word cannot be replaced - it sums up what you want to say, and that expression can't be replaced by anything else.

"The point is, though, if our children's vocabularies are contracting as a result of it, then I do think we have to worry about it.

"We've been encouraged to be more expressive these days, no-one ever says 'keep it all in, bottle it all up'. As a nation we're more expressive.

"Whever we criticise kids you have to say 'they learn from their peers and their elders'. So if we're blaming them for something, we have to turn the mirror on ourselves," said Prof Cashmore.


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