‘Hun’ and ‘Jock’ not offensive, says Ofcom research

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin
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DESCRIBING a Scot as a “Jock” is not offensive with the word “hun” also deemed as “mild language”, according to research by communications regulator Ofcom.

The watchdog has ranked offensive terms on a scale from “mild” to “strongest”.

John Cleese. Picture: Neil Hanna

John Cleese. Picture: Neil Hanna

“Jock” is deemed as “mild language, generally of little concern,” as is “ginger”, which is considered, “a humorous insult”.

The term “hun” often used as a derogatory term north of the border for Rangers fans was desrcibed as: “Mild language, generally of little concern. However, seen as less acceptable by those familiar with the history and use of the term as a sectarian insult.”

The findings stated that some respondents who were unaware of its use as an insult assumed it was an abbrevation of “honey”.

The research aimed to gauge people’s attitude towards potentially offensive language and gestures in broadcasting.

But the rankings have raised eyebrows online as “Jock” is considered less likely to offend than the term for Welsh people “Taff”, which is “medium language, potentially offensive”.

The controversial ratings also mean that “Jock” is no more or less offensive than the word “Nazi” to which Ofcom also gave a “mild” rating.

Also of note especially north of the border is the word “Hun”. Rangers fans have lobbied to make the use of the word in a footballing context a hate crime.

Despite that, Ofcom noted that “Hun” was “mild language” and “generally of little concern”.

Ofcom based its judgements on a survey of just 248 people throughout the UK and presented the findings in a document called: “Attitudes to potentially offensive language and gestures on TV and radio.”

A spokesperson for the regulator said: “The findings are from new research on people’s attitudes towards potentially offensive language and gestures in broadcasting, the biggest study of its kind carried out by Ofcom.

“The results are vital in supporting our broadcasting standards work to protect viewers and listeners, especially children.”

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It states that the term “Jock” is: “Mild language, generally of little concern. Seen as an informal and humorous term. Scottish participants not offended.

“Nazi” is judged in identical terms as: “Mild language, generally of little concern.”

The report adds: “Acceptable as a factual description when discussing Germany under Hitler, and also subsequent extreme right-wing groups. Potentially offensive if used in a modern context to insult German people.”

“Ginger” is deemed funny and described as: “Mild language, generally of little concern. Typically viewed as a humorous insult, however more aggression or specific intent to hurt heightens impact.”

Interestingly, “Taff” a derogatory term for a Welsh person is considered more offensive than “Jock” and described as: “Medium language, potentially unacceptable. Some uncertainty outside Wales about how offensive it is to Welsh people.”

Scots have reacted angrily to the news on social media.

One Reddit user wrote: “Jock p****s me off because it’s usually said by some w**k being a w**k.”

Another user commented: “I don’t think I’ve ever really seen it used in a jovial joking way, well not by the public anyway.”

Another said: “It’s all about the context. When I’m working in London and one of my colleagues makes a smiling comment about “you Jocks”, then I don’t find that offensive. When someone in a pub in London has a go at me for being a “dirty Jock b*****d”, then I find the term offensive.”

Whilst one wrote: “Thanks Ofcom for telling us Jocks that we’ve not to be offended by that term.”

Ofcom said in the report:”It is important to emphasise that participants in the research found it hard to make overall judgments about individual words or gestures without taking into account the specific context.

“In some cases, they gave their views on the acceptability of words without being provided with detail about how a specific word might have been used.

“The importance of context in participants’ approach to assessing these words means that care needs to be taken when reviewing the information set out in this Quick Reference Guide.”

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