New NYT modesty

I should probably give up on slamming the NYT for its fussy modesty in dealing with taboo vocabulary, but this one struck me as particularly silly: from “Pardon Me! A Fearless Look at Our Bodies’ Mundane Functions” by James Gorman (a review of Robert R. Provine’s Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping and Beyond) in the Science Times on the 14th:

As you may have guessed, I am about to dip into the category listed in the subtitle as “beyond” yawning, laughing and hiccupping. It includes, among other behaviors, itching, crying, and the body’s two ways of expelling digestive gases, belching, and the other one.

The author, Robert R. Provine, would not be so reticent in describing the other one. In fact, Dr. Provine, a professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who has studied the behavior and physiology of laughing, yawning, tickling and other actions, denounces the priggishness that turns our attention away from intestinal gas, its origin and expulsion.

Oh god, the other one. Like the paper can’t print fart, a word that my 8-year-old grand-daughter and her friends use, and use appropriately. It goes along with poop and pee.

It’s not that the Times won’t print the word. Two examples from the print paper (many more on-line):

“Politics, Odors and Soap” by Nicholas Kristof:

A University of Toronto study found that if people were asked to wash their hands with soap and water before filling out a questionnaire, they become more moralistic about issues like drug use and pornography. Researchers found that interviewees on Stanford’s campus offered harsher, more moralistic views after “fart spray” had been released in the area. (link)

“In Scrabble, Minding Z’s and Q’s, and Much More” by Stefan Fatsis:

In 1993, a Virginia woman was horrified to find “jew” in the O.S.P.D., defined as “to bargain with — an offensive term.” Her complaints led Hasbro, Scrabble’s North American owner, and Merriam-Webster, publisher of the players dictionary, to delete several dozen words, among them “jesuit,” “libber” and “fart.” (link)

Right up there with pee and poop (again from the print paper):

“In Mumbai, a Campaign Against Restroom Injustice” by Jim Yardley:

… there is a difference — unlike men, women often have to pay to urinate. So for months, social advocates like Minu Gandhi have canvassed the city, arguing that this disparity amounts to blatant discrimination and asking women to start demanding a right most of them had never contemplated: the Right to Pee. (link)

“Fertilizer for the Face?” by Alix Strauss:

A recent Monday morning found me at Shizuka New York Day Spa in Midtown, getting the Geisha Facial, whose main ingredient is bird poop. (link)

But in Science Times, of all places, in a review of a book that “denounces … priggishness”, we get “belching, and the other one”. Is this a joke?


One Response to “New NYT modesty”

  1. Follow-up: Walter the Farting Dog « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Arnold Zwicky's Blog A blog mostly about language « New NYT modesty […]

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