More tone without the words

The NYT continues its program of taboo avoidance by indirection — see “The tone but not the words”, here — this time in Margalit Fox’s obituary for writer Harry Crews:

To critics who taxed him with sensationalism, Mr. Crews — a plainspoken ex-Marine, ex-boxer, ex-bouncer and ex-barker — replied, in effect, that it took decadence to lampoon decadence. His actual replies are largely unprintable.

In effect is especially nice; largely unprintable strikes me as unnecessary, especially given plainspoken.

As a bonus: Crews’s

novels out-Gothic Southern Gothic by conjuring a world of hard-drinking, punch-throwing, snake-oil-selling characters whose physical, mental, social and sexual deviations render them somehow entirely normal and eminently sympathetic

I wonder if there’s a name for the piling up of synthetic compounds in -ing as modifiers, as here, and in the title of Geoff Nunberg’s 2006 book:

Talking right: How conservatives turned liberalism into a tax-raising, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show.

(Then there’s the out-X X construction.)

3 Responses to “More tone without the words”

  1. Julian Lander Says:

    I think _Times_ was explaining why it did not give any of the actual replies. It’s the kind of thing they do when they can’t quote directly from a source.

  2. Ben Zimmer Says:

    I wonder if there’s a name for the piling up of synthetic compounds in -ing as modifiers…

    On Language Log, Geoff N. has called them “object+present participle compounds,” or “obj-participle compounds” for short.

  3. Eamonn McManus Says:

    If only those liberals wouldn’t w so much left!

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