Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Jan 10 23:08:50 UTC 2005

On Jan 10, 2005, at 10:45 AM, Bill Mullins wrote:

> As far as "The Maltese Falcon" goes, I believe you are right.  But Cook
> seems to be the stereotype of the second OED defintion, as well -- a
> cheap hood whose job it is to shoot, or get shot.  Check out his
> listings in the IMDB.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       paulzjoh <paulzjoh at MTNHOME.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: gunsel
>> --------------------------------------------------------------
>> I thought that Bogart was calling Cook a faggot when he said gunsel.
>> When I first saw the movie I was too young to know about
>> homosexuality, little else sex, but rewatching the movie on
>> TV, it seems that  there is a Hollywood euphuism at work there.

as i understand the situation, the writers wanted to get the 'catamite'
attribution across, but were having trouble finding an expression they
could get past the studio.  then the yiddishly knowledgable among them
realized that "gunsel" might work, because most viewers would connect
it to "gun", the character Wilmer being a gun-toting hoodlum.  this
seems to have succeeded, and produced a 'gunslinger' reading for

so, not euphemism (or euphuism, for that matter), but a kind of
deliberate invitation to misunderstanding, conveying one apparent
meaning to most people while getting another meaning across to the


More information about the Ads-l mailing list