Date: 4/27/95 4:08 AM

To: Marjorie Shustak

From: American Dialect Society

I have an impression that the strictures on offensive speech that

govern American television might have been very productive in the

1980s of a new burst of euphemistic language. I don't remember

ever hearing words like scuzz bucket, scumbag, rat-breath, and so

forth before Hill Street Blues, which attempted to create a tough,

vulgar, 'realistic' street atmosphere without using any of the

seven (?) outlawed words. There was one character in particular,

Belcher (Belker?) -- the short, inarticulate, onion-eating, Jewish

cop who growled as often as he spoke -- who came out with these and

many other relatively euphemistic epithets. Andy Cszypowitz (?) of

NYPD Blue continues the tradition today, though with relatively fewer

constraints than the pioneers of the early 80s had to work under.

Does anyone else share this impression of the late blooming of a new,

harsher, euphemistic vocabulary of insult? Or did I just grow up too

much in the gutter, and it wasn't until getting away from the

projects that I encountered this softer, middle lexicon of prime time


Tim Behrend

University of Auckland