anymore, flowers don't seem to be gay

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Wed Feb 27 02:46:22 UTC 2008

I agree--it doesn't support a 'homosexual' reading (though it would support a 
'worthless' reading in the slang sense, but I suspect the author is so far 
out of it that he or she does not even know that that reading is possible).

I do think, though, that the use of "gay" to mean cheerful has been so 
crowded out by the 'homosexual' reading that it rarely if every appears in the 
'cheerful' sense--people tend to snicker, even when it the 'homosexual' reading is 
not plausible.

Given that this appears to be a genuine sighting of "gay" used in a 
traditional sense, I simply thought it might be of some histgorical lexicographical 
significance. No dictionary that I know of actually lists the traditional senses 
as obsolete or archaic, but the word does seem to be going in that direction, 
given the rarity of its usage in anything other than the "homosexual" or 
"worthless" readings.
In a message dated 2/26/08 8:18:27 PM, thnidu at writes:

> Thanks for the PDF of the page (sent off-list). Maybe the author is unaware 
> of the shift, or is conservative and ignoring it, or doesn't care.
> Another thing that just occurred to me: all of the ad, naturally, is about 
> the plant. To me at least, the context is much less supportive of the 
> 'homosexual' reading than any context relating to people. "X is gay" or "gay 
> laughter" or "a gay party" are readable as either emotion/personality or sexual 
> orientation, but the ad text --
>      •     Blooms lavishly starting this summer
>      •     Produces gay masses of blue-violet flowering spires
>      •     Blooms year after year...
>  -- is neither. It only allows an esthetic reading, which is different 
> though related to the emotion/personality sense, and which (to me at least) 
> doesn't support the other reading at all.
> --
> Mark Mandel

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