British journalist, writer, and editor
I have always felt rather sorry for poor Thomas Bowdler, the English physician whose expurgated version of Shakespeare made his name a byword for prudish censorship. Bowdler was a huge bestseller in his time (1754-1825) and he popularised Shakespeare without offending contemporary sensibility. As Swinburne wrote in Bowdler's defence, "No man ever did better service to Shakespeare than the man who made it possible to put him into the hands of intelligent and imaginative children." But the pejorative verb, to bowdlerise, has stuck. ... One may expurgate a text by removing those words deemed offensive, but it is impossible to bowdlerise the language.
The Times (London), April 7, 2007
Posted on April 10, 2007
Revolutionary new technologies, powering commerce, have repeatedly shaped language in the past. In the days of sail you got "scuppered", or "spliced" if someone liked the "cut of your jib". The railway age allowed us "to pick up steam" or go "off the rails". When the automobile arrived we could "rev up" and "blow a gasket", but nuclear weapons offered the alternative of "going ballistic".
The Times (London), July 1, 2000
Posted on March 23, 1998