‘Notes and swearies’: obscene language in soldiers speech and songs, 1914-1918

03 April 2014 15:30

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Florence Nightingale Museum

‘Notes and swearies’: obscene language in soldiers speech and songs, 1914-1918

The British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front was a melting pot of men, and increasing numbers of women, from across the British Empire. They brought with them their own regional dialects, slang and expressions. The language that soldiers used was often peppered with obscenities, as were the songs they sung. This talk will explore the kinds of things soldiers said and sung and suggest that it was motivated by a reaction to the extremely strained circumstances in which they found themselves. It will also look at the way the post-war world dealt with the issue and how soldiers' language passed into popular memory.

Be warned - "colourful" language will be used throughout this talk!

Mark Connelly is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Kent. His main research and teaching interests are war and commemoration and operational military history, and he is currently working on a study of British Instructional Films' 1920s series of reconstruction of First World War battles.