Can Quebec’s Church-based curse words survive in a secular age?
The social changes resulting from the desertion of Quebec church pews have been widely documented: smaller families, fewer marriages, a reformed education system, to name a few. The fate of religious buildings rendered obsolete has generated considerable angst.
But what, en criss, is going to happen to the province’s preferred swear words?
When francophone Quebecers whack a thumb with a hammer or get cut off in traffic, the curses that spew forth are overwhelmingly drawn from objects found in the Catholic Church: ostie, tabarnak, ciboire, câlice, criss! But a new book by a Montreal theology professor and an exhibition at a religion museum raise the question, how long can the distinctively Québécois swear words survive in a secular age?