Possible word of the year

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Sep 3 15:32:56 UTC 2012

On Sep 3, 2012, at 7:48 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> At 9/2/2012 11:39 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> It was noted that because it was unsaid, there are necessarily going
>> to be people who don't get the interpretation of "fuck yourself,["] ...
> Since there are (allegedly) such people, then shouldn't papers of
> record like the NY Times and the Boston Globe have undertaken to
> explain it?  :-)

as i've noted many times on my blog (and Language Log), the NYT (and some other papers) not only will not print various taboo items but also will not allow ostentatious avoidance strategies like asterisking (f***, etc.) and "the F-word / the F-bomb".  that policy reduces them to very indirect allusions ("used a common obscenity", "said he had messed up, but not in those terms", "swore like a sailor").  in fact, their policy tends to be even more constrained than that, since they seem to disprefer indirect allusions that allow the original wording to be easily and unambiguously retrieved -- believing, i think, that such practices are almost as offensive as using the words themselves.

so they're often boxed in by their own practices.  where they can, they're likely to edit the potentially offending material out entirely, or to paraphrase with non-taboo vocabulary.  in this case, Eastwood's wording was already inflammatory (many people viewed it as offensive, and the Times described it as "off-color"), so the paper went out on a limb only so far as to quote Eastwood directly and in full.  (there are probably people on the paper who feel that was too far.)


some discussion of the Eastwood case, citing ADS-L, here:


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