Eggheads' Naughty Word Games

neil neil at TYPOG.CO.UK
Wed Jan 5 10:59:10 UTC 2005

on 28/12/04 5:49 am, Arnold M. Zwicky at zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU 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:      Re: Eggheads' Naughty Word Games
--> -
> On Dec 27, 2004, at 9:22 PM, Larry Horn wrote:
>> At 10:02 PM -0500 12/27/04, Grant Barrett wrote:
>>> Arnold,
>>> You probably don't know this, but Strausbaugh more often writes for
>>> the
>>> alternative-alternative weekly, New York Press, here in New York City.
>>> He's a crank import from Baltimore--the classic uncompassionate
>>> conservative with about as much goodwill and charisma as can fit in a
>>> skeeter sphincter. His M.O. is, typically, to take any view which
>>> opposes what he perceives as the traditional Village Voice editorial
>>> stance. He writes about sports sometimes, too, because he thinks it
>>> makes him more likeable. It doesn't.
>>> You practice your two-step, I'll bring the coffee table.
>> and lest one think it's only those lit critters' ox that's being
>> gored, one of the apparently too-silly-to-contemplate titles mocked
>> in the article is the eminently interesting
>> "Dude!  Your dress is so cute!  Patterns of semantic widening in
>> 'dude'", which, Mr. Strausbaugh informs us, represents "an almost
>> abject embrace of low/popular culture".  Evidently, if "dude" used to
>> be applied solely to males and is now generalized to women as well,
>> at least as a vocative, and thus is following in the footsteps of
>> "guy", this isn't something we need to worry our pretty little heads
>> about.  Clearly this is all just too infra dig when it applies to
>> low/popular cultural items, although perhaps we're allowed to notice
>> it when it affects words of middlebrow standing or above.  (Perhaps
>> this is the same research by Scott Kiesling reported in that
>> piece mentioned earlier this month,
>> --but this would only be more evidence that the media is paying too
>> much attention to us table-dancers.)
> i've tried to keep the tone of this discussion on the light side, but
> here larry makes explicit a vein of moral outrage that i want to
> expose.  the uses of words and other expressions make differences in
> our lives; they are not morally neutral.  belittling particular uses
> dismisses the people who use them, not to mention those of us who study
> the people who use them.
> power to the table-dancers!
> arnold

Hey - I used to be an ass-man, until a feminist pointed out that this was
sexist: so now I'm an ass-person.

Neil Crawford

neil at

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