It always interests me that every language and culture (or those I know about) seems to have a word everyone knows, but is considered unspeakable in polite company. Take the F word. You know what it is (if you don't, you've probably just arrived from a different planet, in which case you'll have no idea what I'm talking about), but you wouldn't expect me to write it in this post. You're right. I'm not going to.
We all know what it means. There are other, more acceptable words, which mean the same thing, so why pick on this one as the most (almost) abusive word anyone can choose? I think we all need a word to use in extremis. For nice, civilised people, it might just be "damn". But for many, it's the F word (there is a worse one, but it's a noun rather than an adjective, and not nearly such a good expletive).
But times are changing, and nowadays the use of the F word is so common that soon there will be no really, really naughty word to use when, say, you hit your thumb with a hammer. Children "pick it up from schoool" (or, more likely, from their parents, who tell everyone they've picked it up from school); it's there in abundance after the nine-o-clock watershed and in novels. It seems that there's no going back.
So I grieve for the loss of the F word as one to be used on special occasions (as by my son, some years ago, when he dropped an entire tray of cut glass on the stairs). It's just as unpleasant as a word, but we've been immunised by its constant use. What is there left?
Somehow, "bother" just isn't the same.