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What the Telegraph hides behind its coy dashes to spare its readers’ blushes

Graham Henry outrages the Telegraph's sensibilities

An odd bit of censorship in the Telegraph’s round-up of the New Zealand-Argentina Rugby World Cup quarter-final yesterday.

Quoting All Black coach Graham Henry at the post-match press conference, the Telegraph’s Mick Cleary quotes him thusly:

We’re through to the semi-final, [I’ve] never been there before, it feels – – – – – – amazing.

Note the coy use of dashes there. What naughty word could Henry have used there? Hmmm, let’s see…six dashes…could it be the Brits’ favourite Anglo-Saxon epithet, minus the missing “g”? You know, the f-word?

Of course not. Anyone who has been to the Land of the Long White Cloud knows that the Kiwis’ swear word of choice, particularly in mixed company, is “bloody”. Indeed, it’s probably one of the few countries in the world where you also commonly hear “blimin'”. *

And ‘bloody” was of course the word Henry used – check him out here.

Quite why the Telegraph feels it needs to shelter its readers – particularly its rugby-following readers – from “bloody” in this day and age is I suppose a matter between editor Tony Gallagher and Outraged Colonel of Tunbridge Wells. But to hide it behind dashes seems akin to those Victorian matrons who (perhaps apocryphally) hid curvaceous piano legs under frilly dresses, lest the sight of them stirred unseemly lust.

* Kiwis seem to have a fondness for b-words. As well as “bastard”, the other one you’re more likely to hear there than over here is “bugger”, usually used without any sexual connotation. The online debate continues whether Edmund Hillary, on returning from the top of Everest said “We knocked the bastard off” (what was reported by Jan (née James) Morris at the time) or “We knocked the bugger off” (how teammates remembered it). Hillary himself remembers it as “bastard” in his memoirs; most Kiwis remember it as “bugger”.

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