8

Here's a passage where Westfield talks about possibly having to allow Natives into the European club:

"Got to put up with it, I suppose", he said. "B--s of natives are getting into all the Clubs nowadays. Even the Pegu Club, I'm told. Way this country's going, you know. We're about the last Club in Burma to hold out against 'em"

I can't figure out what the "B--s" is supposed to be. Could it be bollocks? I haven't heard that word being used in this way yet, and it seems weird to me to censor bollocks but not the n-word, although I guess those were different times.

  • 2
    Just a shot in the dark, but could it be bastards? – user14111 Mar 2 '19 at 13:35
  • @user14111 That may definitely be it, thanks! – Keno Mar 2 '19 at 14:04
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    Bastards, buggers, blighters, ... half the swearwords in the English language begin with B. – Rand al'Thor Mar 2 '19 at 15:17
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    @verbose: It's a good idea but OED has no citations before 1988, which suggests that it would be anachronistic for Burmese Days (published 1934, set in the 1920s). – Gareth Rees Mar 24 '19 at 20:46
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    @GarethRees “The great tragedy of science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact” (Thomas Huxley) – verbose Mar 24 '19 at 23:30
4

Almost certainly "buggers". Several other possible options ("bastards", "balls") are used later in the book without bowdlerisation.

'Now, you damned swab, will you take that back?' 'No, I will not.'
'You oily swine! You nigger's Nancy Boy! You crawling,
sneaking, f - - bloody bastard!'

'Order!' exclaimed Mr Macgregor.

and

'Here, Macgregor, we've read this notice, and we all think this idea of electing a native to the Club is absolute...' Ellis was going to have said 'absolute balls', but he remembered Mrs Lackersteen's presence and checked himself.


The context in which it's used later in the book fits 'buggers' well and doesn't fit the final option ("bollocks") at all well.

to be governing a set of damn black swine who've been slaves since the beginning of history, and instead of ruling them in the only way they understand, we go and treat them as equals. And all you silly b - - s take it for granted.

and

that's against all the Government regulations. Ellis was a little vexed about it. "Why didn't you plug some of the b - - s when you had the chance?" he said.

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