vocative "bitch"

Patty Davies patty at CRUZIO.COM
Wed Oct 9 23:20:29 UTC 2002

Oh dear - my husbands friends all used "bitch" and basically in
conversation JUST as Roly describes ever since I met them, about 20 years
ago!  They are all from Palo Alto (Calif.) and this sure struck me/ was
offensive to me when I first joined the group!  Eventually, I spoke up
about it and I got the guys in the group to back off from this a little
over the years.   This was not the way I was used to being addressed from
my teen dating years in Santa Monica (Calif., Los Angeles area)!

They may have picked it up as 'blue collar teenage males'.  Unfortunately,
several of them stuck with it.  I just followed the lead of the other women
in the group who didn't bat an eye when they were referred to as "the
bitches" as in, "well we can leave and go to the club when the bitches are
ready".  A memorable experience - I was bewildered that the other women
didn't react to this and I was dumbstruck thinking to myself that I was
going on a DATE with this crowd, huh?!?!  My husband slips into this speech
style (he is lucky I am a descriptive not proscriptive linguist :} ) after
he has been out with the guys.

These guys all keep in touch, there is a large network, all from Palo Alto
High School, graduating in the 70's
and they sure sound alike so I would say this style of speech probably goes
back 30 years, at least in Palo Alto.


At 03:48 PM 10/9/02 -0700, you wrote:
>I have never heard anyone use this. I have been at the university and high
>school over the past 25 years (in both Oregon and Minnesota). I think
>anyone I have ever come across would be highly offended by being called
>bitch.  On the other hand, I have heard that some groups DO use this,
>particularly certain types of rappers--gangsta. The report that it is an
>Americanism has me a bit worried--it definitely needs to be qualified.
>This use is moderately common in blue-collar teenage males in
>Australia, and is reported to be an Americanism.
>I have been told that this practice is found in US biker gangs, and
>internationally in-group between homosexuals, both male and female.
>In what social domains is this practice known in the US?
>Roly Sussex
>Roly Sussex
>Professor of Applied Language Studies
>Department of French, German, Russian, Spanish and Applied Linguistics
>School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies
>The University of Queensland
>Queensland 4072
>Office: Forgan-Smith Tower 403
>Phone:  +61 7 3365 6896
>Fax:    +61 7 3365 2798
>Email:  sussex at uq.edu.au
>Web:    http://www.arts.uq.edu.au/slccs/profiles/sussex.html
>School's website:
>         http://www.arts.uq.edu.au/slccs/
>Language Talkback ABC radio:
>Web:    http://www.cltr.uq.edu.au/languagetalkback/
>Audio:  from http://www.abc.net.au/darwin/

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