Linguistic Anthropology

The study of language has been part of anthropology since the discipline started in the 1ate 1870s. This site is a place for linguistic anthropologists to post their work and discuss important events and trends in the field.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Softening Expletives

Some linganth mailing-list subscribers recently discussed the current use of "that's so gay" in relationship to gender relationships and sexual orientation.
The most recent episode of The Word Nerds mentions the softening of that and other expressions in the context of expletives (including the 'F' word). Not family-friendly but quite interesting in terms of language ideologies.
Expletives (87) at The Word Nerds

3 Comments:

Blogger TheChad724 said...

All of a sudden, intermixed with the rise of political correctness in America, the gay community is starting to take offense to a common term that has never been a problem until gays have realy become noticed in this world: "that's so gay." I have use this term many times being that it is a form of language change and, since gay has changed from happy to homosexual, is it uncommon for it to change its meaning to stupid? Just recently I had written this phrase on my white board on the door of my dorm room when it was erased by an "MA" (or Multicultural Assistant) saying "think about what you write on this board next time." I decided to think about what i wrote on the board next time and when next time came, I was ready for it. I thought about how so anyone, or anything novel is getting so much support, but while this is happening the old is getting left in the dust (such as white, Christian, heterosexual males like myself). I decided to write hateful phrases on their towards myself such as "white people aren't cool" and "that's so heterosexual." My hypothesis with writing these was that the "MA" would not say anything about what was written on the board because white heterosexuals deserve any discrimination because they have, presumably, been the ones discriminating the African Americans, Chinese, Hispanic and Homosexual people for years. Sure enough the "MA" has yet to write anything on our door and it has been a week. I guess maybe some people could take offense if I made a big deal out of this little thing, because the only reason "that's so gay" has become a big deal is because the gay community has made a big deal of this this little thing that is so common in our world today.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Whether or not you realize it, "that's gay" has always referred negatively to homosexuals. I first noticed more and more people to use "that's gay" online and in person during the late 90's, and the phrase was used in lieu of "FUBAR", "how lame", "gag me with a spoon", etc. I can assure you, "gay" was no longer being used as a synonym for "happy" in the 90's by the vast majority of Americans.

Many words and phrases used in slang English are derogatory towards other groups of people, such as "gypped", "I got Jewed", "wifebeater", etc.

Is it possible that the MA left the comment on the board because she didn't want another confrontation with you?

12:22 PM  
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1:54 AM  

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