Redacting the D-word

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Feb 23 16:36:39 UTC 2008

On Sat, Feb 23, 2008 at 10:43 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> The NYTimes today has a story headlined "All Those Foul Words Are
> Tennessee Williams's".  See
> The current production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", with James Earl
> Jones as Big Daddy, uses the foul words that were written into it by
> Williams for a 1974 revival, restoring "what he clearly meant to say
> all along".  They had not been used in the 1950s, because (the
> article says) they were too strong for the times.  After Williams
> died, the then-executor of Williams's estate would not allow the 1974
> text to be used in ensuing productions.
> Among other words replaced, apparently, is "ducking".
> One element present in a 2003 production, with Ned Beatty, Big
> Daddy's "so-called elephant joke", has not been used in the current
> production.  I wonder what it was; quick Googling doesn't find the text.

The joke is on pp. 164-5 of this edition:

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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