November 4th, 2008


George Orwell believed that words come before ideas- that, for example, in order to form the concept "tiger" we first have to form the word "tiger". I don't know if this is true or not- I don't suppose anybody does-  but I think it's plausible.

As does Stephen Fry, who develops it in his blog, suggesting that the quality of a word affects the quality of the concept it designates. If the word is weak our grasp of the concept will be fuzzy.  He writes about encountering a huge graffito in London (by Banksy, I believe) which fills the side of a house with the slogan One Nation under CCTV- and feeling that its impact is undermined by the feebleness of the final word (if it is a word). How can you get indignant at such a playful, internally rhyming acronym?  (Seeseeteevee- it could be the name of a character from a CBeebies show) .  Maybe, he suggests, we'd be less placid under continual suveillance if we had an angrier, more visceral word for it. He suggests "scunt".  As in, "I passed three scunts on my way to the office" or "I just got scunted" or One nation under scunt.

I think he's onto something. And I'm adopting the word. From now on, as far as I'm concerned, a CCTV camera is a "scunt". Pass it on.