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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cross about the Crossword (Calgary Sun Censorship?)

I was doing Saturday's New York Times Crossword puzzle in the Calgary Sun (Each paper runs the Times puzzle and I buy the paper to do it based on which paper costs less on any given day.) Both papers run what I call the "idiot puzzle" in addition to the Times puzzle. I noticed yesterday's answers to the idiot puzzle had been replaced by a brown square that said inside it,

"Solution to yesterday's crossword unavailable due to language that may be offensive to some. We apologize for the inconvenience."

Well, of course I had to dig out yesterday's paper and do it, thinking as I rummaged the recycling whether I could send in my objection to "FROZEN" or "ALBUQUERQUE" as found in today's puzzle and thus get the answers censored.

So you're wondering what they censored.

There were two that someone could possible find offensive.
15 Across -- "A malicious woman with a fierce temper" Answer: HARPY says, "2.(lowercase) a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; shrew."
50 Down -- "An American Indian woman" Answer: SQUAW
Dictionary .com says, "1. Often Offensive. a North American Indian woman, esp. a wife.
2. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.
a. a wife.
b. any woman or girl."

In the former, a slangy derogation, or as my dictionary of slang says, used in the 1970's to mean a lesbian. Out here in redneck land the idea of a lesbian could be offensive and the idea that any lesbian might live in Alberta would probably be terrifying to some.

As for the latter, no mention of the clue itself. "North American Indian" has probably been replaced by "First Nation" or "Aboriginal" or "Native American" or "Native Canadian" or "Indigenous Peoples" depending who you ask I don't think "American Indian" has been around for a long time.
For more info look at the Wiki article that begins:
"Squaw is a spelling of an eastern Algonquian First nation morpheme, meaning "woman," that appears in numerous Algonquian dialects variously spelled as squa, skwa, esqua, sqeh, skwe, que, kwa, ikwe, etc." And, check out: The Sociolinguistics of the S-Word by William Bright, University of Colorado.