Embraced by the "lite"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Jun 18 05:12:56 UTC 2001

>... I guess I'm not so concerned with FDA rulings, but as
>mentioned in my earlier post with the ordinary language extension of

Well, of course there's a spectrum, or whatever .... I think one might
address "lite X" (X = noun or name) separately from "X lite".

I think in most instances of "lite X" the "lite" is either an "innocent" or
frivolous spelling variant or an example of something like (derogatory)
"eye dialect" which we discussed earlier. The AHD example would seem to me
to be an example of the latter, more or less poking fun at (some) light
music, but "lite music" returns >800 Google hits of which many seem to be
of the former ("innocent" or non-derogatory) type (e.g., the radio stations
WLTJ Lite Music, WLIT Lite Rock, etc.).

"X lite" seems to be formed on the model of "Miller Lite" (beer), from
circa 1980, and I concede this is a distinct lexical item: "X lite" = "a
watered-down version of X" or so, and I accept this as slang of a sort ...
but the AHD citation does not clearly exemplify this usage, IMHO.

Even "X lite" does occur as an "innocent" variant or misspelling, however:
Google returns >2000 hits for "Coors Lite", although AFAIK there is no such
item (it's "Coors Light") ... and these do not appear to be mostly
derogatory. Of course this is still in the food-and-drink area, and I
understand this is not central to Larry's topic. More to the point,
"Christianity lite" is found several times in its expected "slang" sense
("watered-down Christianity"), and it is also found (less often) in the
same sense as "Christianity light": perhaps this is an innocent misspelling
of the not-so-innocent "slang" misspelling? Or does in fact the "slang"
expression "X lite" < "Miller Lite" have a parallel "X light" < "Bud Light"
or something?

-- Doug Wilson

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