Search engine results reveal Anglo-Saxon ignorance

It's official: Brits don't know f***

In a depressing rundown of the top ten words typed in an online dictionary, it would seem that despite people using the f-word more than ever before, they don't understand its meaning. The English language's most flexible word came top on Freesearch's review of how quite how illiterate we as a nation are.

And in a second blow to the terrific language that is Anglo-Saxon, "c***" jumps into the third spot. If that wasn't bad enough, the ubiquitous "twat" is the seventh most-looked for word.

It's not only traditional swearing that appears to be out of favour either. Business use of language - far from making everyone wonderfully efficient, appears to be confusing us. How else can you explain "liaise" taking the number two spot. We can't even spell the bleedin' word - a misspelling "liase" came in at number 12. (Update: OK, you can stop emailing us now. Now we too know that MS-Word's spellchecker insists on "liase" - Ed.)

And here come the other most (ab)used business words - holistic at four, and paradigm at five.

Our grammar is also letting us down - people don't know the difference between "affect" (sixth) and "effect" (eight), or "practise" (nine) and "practice" (thirteenth).

At it seems that aside from our work and social lives being inept, we are even hopeless emotionally, with "love" coming in at ten.

All in all, a shocking indication of a Britain at the start of the 21st century. Unable to communicate, even abuse one another, we don't know what we're doing or what result our actions have.

The founder of Freesearch is equally concerned at what he has found, especially with regard to swear words. Shakil Khan said: "These words have become casual expletives, so that many people are desensitised to hearing or reading them in everyday situations." Oh?

"Because they are commonly used they have become separated from their original meanings," he twatted on, "and in fact become almost meaningless. Whether they cause offence now depends entirely on the context of use."

Oh f*** off, Shakil. (That will do, Kieren - Shakil named us in The Guardian this week as one of his two favourite websites, and we love our readers -Ed). ®

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