"Democrat party"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 31 16:32:18 UTC 2008

At 7:27 AM -0400 5/31/08, David Bowie wrote:
>From:    Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>>Have noticed within the past few weeks that Fox News journalists now
>>regularly employ this designation.
>>How fair and balanced of them!
>It's always seemed to me to be a simple case of analogy: a Republican is
>member of the Republican Party, a a Libertarian is a member of the
>Libertarian Party, a Communist is a member of the Communist Party, so a
>Democrat must be a member of the Democrat Party.
Is it really that simple?  What the analogy fails to account for is
the fact that the first three are essentially adjectives when
lower-cased as ordinary words rather than proper names.  We speak of
republican/libertarian/communist ideas, traditions, goals, etc., but
we speak of democratic (not democrat) ideas, traditions, goals, etc.
I think we would also ask "How Republican is s/he?" and "How
Democratic is s/he?" rather than "How Democrat?"  Another standard
test for adjectives is occurrence in the "seems/remains ___", and I
think we get this pattern:

After the midterm elections, the majority remained
Your family seems basically Republican/Democratic/??Democrat to me.

This isn't to dispute the possibility of a noun-noun compound
"Democrat party" of the Fox kind, just to argue that the analogy is
imperfect.  Plus, there's the history, with Nixon, Dole et al.
sneering at "Democrat wars" (WWI, WWII, etc.), or with the use by
Ailes, Rove, and other fair and balanced Foxniks.  To be sure, there
is a well-established tradition of sneering at opposing parties,
movements, or politicos by using names or nicknames they reject,
whether it's "Know-Nothing", "Mugwump", "Women's Libber", "Commie",
"neo-Nazi", "left-liberal", "nervous nellies", "appeasers", or
"Trotskyite" (as opposed to "Trotskyist"), but in the old days
television networks and the mainstream press would be reluctant to
employ these labels.  I've never heard of a Democrat who employed, or
welcomed the use of,"Democrat party" (although no doubt this does


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list