Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Sun May 30 00:23:49 UTC 2004

On May 29, 2004, at 1:17 PM, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      ghey/ghay
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> --------
> one of my undergraduates has pointed me to the TechIMO website, where a
> posting of march 2003 about spyware referred to the material that
> appeared on the screen as a "gay thing" and "really homo".  this led to
> a complaint that those remarks were offensive and the predictable
> counter:
>    "gay is a term kids use that means stupid.  When it's used as in the
> post it means this stupid thing.  It has nothing to do with
> homosexuality."
> and two further responses, one counseling care about audience and
> context, the other maintaining:
>    The term is like "phat" and should be so spelled:
>    ghey
> the original poster then amended "homo" to "stupid" (but left "gay"
> in!).
> my student notes that google gives 33,600 hits for "ghey" and 2,710 for
> "ghay", virtually all in the relevant sense.
> google's top hit on "ghey" is for, where
> readers are invited to supply their own definitions for slang words and
> expressions.  there are 49 definitions (and a couple .wav files with
> sample pronunciations).  these are all over the map.  some respondents
> maintain that it preserves the ambiguity of "gay" ('stupid, annoying,
> lame' or "homosexual"); some say it's offensive no matter what ("A
> different spelling of "gay" that some idiots thought up and pretend
> that it's less derogatory to homosexuals"); most declare it to be a
> totally different word from "gay", with only the 'stupid, annoying,
> lame' sense ("gay but not homosexual", as one respondent puts it); and
> still others say it's *really* gay ('homosexual'), denoting sissiness
> or "so gay that it is even misssspelled [sic]" or "the gay way to say
> gay" ("Billy is gay because he uses the word ghey"), though the last
> two might be read either way.
> the ADS archives produce only one instance of "ghey" or "ghay" -- the
> former, in a 5 september 2003 posting by anne marie hamilton on "pwn",
> in which a posting to PlanetSide gets pulled in with stuff on "pwn".
> in its entirety: "you gus [sic] are ghey".
> so, now i have citations for all of the following with the 'stupid,
> annoying, lame' sense:
>    gay, ghey, ghay, homo, faggot, fag
> not yet "fairy" or "poof" or "pansy" or "fruit" or "sissy".  with
> "queer" it's *really* hard to tease out the meanings.
> arnold (zwicky at

In 2001, my niece, twelve years old at the time, said to me, "My mother
is a homo!" In the context, "a homo" had to be read as meaning
something like "lame" or, perhaps, as a euphemism for "an asshole."
Since that time, said niece has used only the term "gay" in similar
contexts, e.g. "That's so gay!", "homo" having apparently become
obsolete. For her, neither "homo" nor "gay" relates to anything having
to do with actual homosexuals or homosexuality.
FWIW, this niece lives in a small town in the Wyoming Valley region of
-Wilson Gray

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