ms./gay in NYT

Lynne Murphy M_Lynne_Murphy at BAYLOR.EDU
Sun May 23 20:39:59 UTC 1999

> Thanks for all the responses.  I'm particularly interested in the Times--I
> know a lot of publications used Ms. way before it did.  I'm comparing the
> "success" of (semantically diminished) _African American_ vs. other lexical
> innovations in self-labeling in the last few decades.
> NYT began using _AA_ within 3 months of Jesse Jackson's Dec 1988 speech
> that popularized the term (yes--I know the term was around much longer
> than that), but had a policy against using Ms. for years--even women who
> asked to be referred to as "Ms." were not.

> Using Academic Universe, as Fred Shapiro (I think) suggested had so-so
> results--I did find a 1982 Safire column that says that the NYT stylebook
> only then allowed 'Ms.' in quoted material.  But since "Ms" is allowed in
> qtd material and also the name of a magazine and the abbreviations for
> 'manuscript' and 'multiple sclerosis', I can't just search for the earliest
> use of Ms. and be done with it.  (And the server is taking forever
> today...)  So, at least I know that the change is post 1982.  If anyone has
> any  NYT stylebooks from the 1980s/90s, and could look up Ms. for me, I'd
> be very grateful.  Meanwhile, I'll try to track some down myself, and will
> try to contact the Times.


M. Lynne Murphy
Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Department of English
Baylor University
PO Box 97404
Waco, TX 76798

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