Michael Newman mnewman at QC.EDU
Sat Feb 7 19:50:15 UTC 2004

>It's funny you should ask that. Not an hour ago, I sent a message to
>Dan Savage, inquiring as to whether he had seen any evidence of the
>word spreading "in the wild," without specific references to his
>campaign, to his column, or without having to self-consciously define
>the term.
>In his column he has printed letters recounting anecdotes "proving" the
>success of the word, but it's not clear that those mentioned did not
>get the word from the same two sources. They all read as if the word is
>being discussed as a novelty or curiosity.
>The in-group using this word, in my opinion, isn't people who might
>have a use for it, but people who merely desire to spread it. The
>super-shedder here is Savage's column, and, by extension, the campaign.
>In the database and Internet searches I have done--and admittedly, it
>is time-consuming and difficult to search for, given all the material
>related to the Senator himself--I have found exactly no uses of the new
>"santorum" which are not self-conscious and/or included merely to
>propagate the word.
>So I, too, would be interested in any solid evidence that this word has
>a life beyond the campaign.

I agree. However, the problem is that it is hard to imagine any
"in-the-wild" uses of the term outside a few intimate incidents in
the bedroom and people recounting such incidents to others. The
specificity and yuck factors that make it attractive to the campaign
make people (in my experience) avoid talking about it.
Michael Newman
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Dept. of Linguistics and Communication Disorders
Queens College/CUNY
Flushing, NY 11367
tel: 718-997-2871
fax: 718-997-2873

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