Heard on MSNBC

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Sat May 9 16:56:53 UTC 2009

In other words, "the gay" and "the ugly" are thought of as akin to diseases, like "the plague." HIV is also the name of a disease, but it does not usually take the definite article among sophisticated speakers. Phrases like "catch the ugly" are not satirical, just current buzz.
In that sense, "catch the gay" and "catch the ugly" are somewhat exceptional.
------Original Message------
From: Alice Faber
Sender: ADS-L
ReplyTo: ADS-L
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Heard on MSNBC
Sent: May 9, 2009 11:34 AM

Herb Stahlke wrote:
> Rachel Maddow frequently uses the phrase "the gay" derisively of
> people, usually conservative Republicans, who think homosexuality is
> an acquired behavior.  This evening Keith Olberman used "the funny" in
> a similar way when talking about whether Obama would be humorous at
> the Correspondents' Dinner.  Is this use of "the" + adjective a new
> pattern?  Obviously "the" + adjective is a common construction that's
> been around a long time as in "The difficult is done at once; the
> impossible takes a little longer."  It's this derisive or ironic use
> of the construction that feels new.

It's been around in the blogosphere for a while now. For purposes of
googling, the spelling would be "teh gay" or "teh ghey".

Alice Faber                                       faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories                            tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                               fax (203) 865-8963

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

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

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