To chav or chav not


The English language is rife with words that can be used to insult and abuse: one of its myriad of beauties. You only have to read Shakespeare to see how the English language can be shaped so as to hurl insults. A word often heard today is ‘chav’ and its use has drawn the attention of the left wing think tank, The Fabian Society. They believe that we should not be allowed to use the word, mainly because for them it has certain connotations. Their editorial director calls for a ban of the word due to its use by the middle class in a derogatory way. According to Mr Hampson it is, ‘sneering and patronising’ and ‘betrays a deep and revealing level of class hatred’.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the term ‘chav’ is defined as:

In the United Kingdom (originally the south of England): a young person of a type characterized by brash and loutish behaviour and the wearing of designer-style clothes (esp. sportswear); usually with connotations of a low social status.

Sadly though, this type of behaviour is now imitated through all levels of wealth, indeed sometimes even worn as a badge of honour. To tar all of those in the lower economic strata with the same behavioural brush, as the Fabians have done, is deeply offensive, whilst also smacking of simplistic 19th century policy analysis more usually associated with Marx. As Tony Thorne, a language consultant for Kings College London, says, "Chav is like 'skinhead' - it describes a type of behaviour and appearance that's very identifiable."

Perhaps newspeak is the beacon the Fabian Society is using to guide them: the fictional language that George Orwell invented for his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. A language cleansed of depth and beauty and politicised by a dictatorship. If the Fabians wish to try to attach economic implications to word usage they are free to do so. Much the same as the rest of us should be allowed to freely use the word how and when we so desire.