Language and the latest taboo

Barry Soraff | Partner

As a devoted Spurs fan and semi-observant Jew, I have been exercised recently by the furore surrounding the use of the so-called “Y-word” by Jew and non-Jewish Spurs fans alike to describe themselves. And I do have strong views about that whole storm in a tea cup but I’m not going to talk about those here. However the whole discussion did get me thinking about what other words are now so taboo that we have had to abbreviate them and I have come up with my own new list that I am thinking of trademarking:

The “A-word” – Where else would you expect to start? The A stands for “avoidance” and this is fast becoming the tax-related activity that dare not speak its name. Practitioners of the A-word are ostracised, vilified and generally regarded as to blame for all of society’s ills. Anyone caught doing the A-word should be forced to follow the “V-word” principle. This is often thought to stand for “Vodafone” following their recent high profile apparent skirmish with the A-word but in fact refers to Starbucks who, finding themselves in the unfortunate position of not owing any tax in the UK, instead press-ganged themselves into “volunteering” to pay some!

The “F-word” – Which obviously refers to this new concept where people should be made to pay their “fair share” of tax. It sounds in principle like a great idea but as far as I can tell the F-word as used here seems to represent any amount that someone else pays and in particular where that person appears to have more money than us.
So far we have anyone practising the A-word, applying the V-word principle in order to pay their F-word. Which can only mean that paying tax should in future now be referred to as “paying F-ing tax”. Actually not sure I’ll be able to trademark that after all!