November 19, 2006

Expletive inserted

No word taboo at The New Yorker, it would seem. Bill Buford casually drops the occasionally attested colloquialism lo and fucking behold (184 Google hits) into a description of his thoughts as he hides behind a bush and watches a male turkey appear in response to a slate-scratching device that makes an imitation of a female turkey call:

... I heard a deep slow trilling. A gobble. Lo and fucking behold. I peeked, ever so slowly, through the leaves of my bush and saw him. Whoa! A gobbler, puffed and tail spread, looking like the NBC logo. Wow! I'd called him in! I'd done it!

The New Yorker arrives in American homes just like any other periodical, and has all sorts of cartoons and ads that might encourage kids to look at it. It's puzzling to me why, when The New Yorker can risk dropping the prime obscene expletive of the English language in mid fucking idiom in a feature article about turkeys, so many newspapers are so astonishingly coy that they can't mention shit without at least a couple of asterisks. (I guess I mean that last clause in both its literal and idiomatic senses.)

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at November 19, 2006 12:14 PM