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Watch Your Language

May 09, 1999

In last Sunday's movie preview of the Mike Myers movie "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" (Summer Sneaks, May 2), you suggest that the word "shag" is merely a "British euphemism for having sex." According to Webster, a euphemism is a mild phrase or word that replaces an offensive one, like using "passing away" instead of "dying." Sorry, but your writer is wholly wrong.

"Shag" does not refer to sex, it refers to the particular sex act. It is interchangeable with, and has the same gross and jarring effect as, the F-word. Publications with even the most moderate command of language disdain the use of the one, so why on earth are you being fooled into printing the other? Or is this just another of those weird American foibles that sees swearing in a foreign language as some strange mark of style?

In getting this word past the censors, and your editors, Myers must be euphoric behind the bike sheds with the success of his latest "wheeze."

Congratulations to The Times and to Hollywood--you've been had.

I'm sure Myers' little "gang" must be very, very proud.

JOHN R. HARRIS

Huntington Beach

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