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CHAT: Obscenity in British comedy, was Re: USAGE: number concord in AmE, again

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Saturday, June 22, 2002, 13:38
Philip Newton writes:
 > On 22 Jun 02, at 7:48, Christopher B Wright wrote:
 > > Reminds me of the Rory award for the most gratuitous use of the word
 > > "Belgium" in a serious film. (Read _Life, the Universe, and Everything_
 > > by Douglas Adams if you didn't recognize that, and if you did, well, um,
 > > read it again.)
 > I've seen at lease two versions. One uses "Belgium", another uses a
 > "four-letter word". (Not sure whether those correspond to UK and US
 > editions of the book; and I don't remember which version was the
 > bowdlerised one.)
My copy's British, and the original edition.  It features the latter
of those two versions.  In fact, I'll be more specific - the text is

!`What was that about?' said Arthur to a girl he found standing beside
!him. `Why did he tell me to win awards?'
!`Just showbiz talk,' shrugged the girl.  `He's just won an award at
!the Annual Ursa Minor Alpha Recreational Illusions Institute Awards
!Ceremony, and he was hoping to be able to pass it off lightly, only
!you didn't mention it, so he couldn't.'
!`Oh,' said Arthur, `oh, well, I'm sorry I didn't.  What was it for?'
!`The Most Gratuitous Use Of The Word "Fuck" In A Serious Screenplay.
!It's very prestigious.'

If there is anyone on this list of such a delicate constitution that
they are seriously offended by the use of the word "fuck" in a
quotational context, then I appologize, but I don't imagine I can do
them much more harm than than the discussion of the word's etymology a
few weeks back, in which I posted a couple of dictionary definitions.
This later reminded me of a line from the BBC tv comedy _Blackadder
the Third_.

! Dr. Samuel Johnson: (to George) So, ahem, tell me, sir, what words
! particularly interested to you?
! Prince Regent George: Oh, er, nothing... Anything, really, you know...
! J: Ah, I see you've underlined a few (takes dictionary, reads):
! `bloomers'; `bottom'; `burp'; (turns a page) `fart'; `fiddle';
! `fornicate'?
! G: Well...
! J: Sir! I hope you're not using the first English dictionary to look
! up rude words!
! Edmund Blackadder: I wouldn't be too hopeful -- that's what all the
! other ones will be used for.

Historical note: Johnson, Samuel (1709-84), English lexicographer,
writer, critic and conversationalist.  Noted particularly for his
_Dictionary of the English Language_ (1755).  It wasn't really the
first dictionary of English, but it was the first to use quotations to
illustrate usage, and it was the standard text until the publication
of the OED, over 150 years later.  Consequently it was influential on
the development of standard English.


John Cowan <jcowan@...>Obscenity in British comedy,
BP Jonsson <bpj@...>Obscenity in British comedy,