Lynne Murphy M_Lynne_Murphy at BAYLOR.EDU
Fri Nov 12 19:19:54 UTC 1999

I think I may have said this before, but for me it seems that the
reclamation of "chick" has something to do with its phonetic similarity
to (and thus perhaps connotation of) "chica" (which I was using as an
address term with friends before "girlfriend" was popularized) and
perhaps also associations with "chic"  (remember "Chic" Jeans?  They
pronounced the name like "chick", not "sheik".)

I think it also helps that "chick" has such a snappy sound.  The word
itself (ignoring the animal reference) is short and sharp, with those
voiceless obstruents and short high vowel.  So, "chick" sounds better as
a reclaimed power-laden label than something else (like bunny or kitty
or baby) would.

Of course, I look at college age women these days, and a lot of them
look like they are trying to look like the animal chick--tiny (and in
little girl clothes) and cute (tiny barrettes, tiny backpacks) and
cuddly (always smiling).  What I wouldn't do for some nice goth students
who I can relate to!

Lynne, whose students now laugh heartily when she tries to call herself
a "chick"


M. Lynne Murphy, Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Department of English, Baylor University
PO Box 97404, Waco, TX 76798 USA
Phone:  254-710-6983     Fax:  254-710-3894

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