Jesse Sheidlower’s piece ran in The New York Times on the last day of March, so you knew it couldn’t be an April Fool’s joke. Three years ago the Times Magazine ran a similar one by Jenny Diski, who sought out the Gray Lady as the most appropriate venue for a plea on behalf of greater freedom to use a common vulgarism for the female pudenda. Needless to say, the word did not appear in her article. At least Mr. Sheidlower, the President of the American Dialect Society and, until 2005, the Principal North American Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, was so far emancipated from propriety that the title of his book, The F-Word, could be mentioned in his capsule bio. Ms. Diski had been reduced to inserting in the place of the word she...


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