not just taboo avoidance

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sun Sep 22 12:31:03 UTC 2002

There is a wonderful book (of I think both serious and popular
interest) on how social factors have led to renaming. In the 90's,
Cesar Chavez Ave. was proposed by Lansing Elementary school kids
(since Lansing was one of the last places he visited before his death
and supports a sizable Mexican-American community). The proposal was
accepted, the kids congratulated for their civic efforts, and the
signs were put up.

A quick group was formed by those who felt their heritage had been
stolen from them (it was Grand Ave. before, and the Grands were
furious), and, disclaiming the pathetically transparent bias of the
drive, they succeeded in revoking the new-named in a public

As they say, there are a million stories in the big city; this is
just one of them.


>the October 2002 issue of Out magazine has a piece by Benoit
>Denizet-Lewis ("Going Their Way", pp. 50-4) about how the people on
>Gay Road in Miami Township, Ohio (near Dayton), petitioned,
>successfully, to have their street renamed Green Apple Road.
>According to the petition,
>   The repercussions of living on a road called 'GAY' are not
>   pleasant... The snide remarks and thoughtless comments about
>   one's address being 'GAY' are intolerable.
>a side story has to do with the fact that the street signs kept being
>stolen.  some of the locals believe that this was the work of gay
>people (presumably, those notorious gay gangs that roam the roads of
>rural ohio).
>arnold (zwicky at

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736

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