still more on -er

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 23 06:25:24 UTC 2009

On Sun, Nov 22, 2009 at 10:32 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: still more on -er
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 9:39 PM -0500 11/22/09, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>>In a message dated 11/22/09 8:14:11 PM, laurence.horn at YALE.EDU writes:
>>>  "Christer" is interesting, since of course it does correspond to the
>>>  generalization, as do "Quaker", "Shaker", and "Holy Roller, all of
>>>  which at least originated as pejoratives.
>>CHRIST is a noun, the others are verbs. NEW DEAL and (arguably) AARP and
>>ACLU are ideological positions.
>>But these three counterexamples aside
> They're not counterexamples to the claim that the process in question
> applies to ideological (political and/or religious) movements (or
> creeds), and I'm not sure your nomination of Hell's Angels or biking
> really fit, without procrustean stretching.
> New Dealer does, and it would be interesting to see if the first uses
> there were negatively intended (applied by anti-FDR forces, as
> opposed to Democrats, unionists, or whoever proudly announcing "I'm a
> New Dealer").  I don't characterize AARP as an ideology.  ACLU might
> be; if it were salient enough and the phonology worked a bit better,
> I can imagine Fox newscasters referring to certain politicians as
> "ACLUers".  In fact there are references to "card-carrying ACLUers"
> on the web; they seem either pejoratives or (far more rarely)
> instances of reclamation.  So more grist for the mill, rather than
> any sort of counterexample.
> LH
>>, if Larry's rule is just that -er is
>>pejorative when applied to nouns that characterize political or religous
>>convictions, then--again--(1) they are grammatically anomalous and hence more
>>likely to be interpretable as ironic/sarcastic and (2) people are perjnaps
>>more likely to make up odd names for things they don't approve of than things
>>they do.
>>And is it really true that Hell's Angels are not a social movement and that
>>being a true Biker (whether pedalled or motored) is not a religion for the
>>The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The movie New Moon just opened, so I cannot resist adding another
recent data point for the er suffix - twilighter.

There has been a fansite at since 2007. The website
founders and fans may have wanted to embrace the term twilighter
knowing that its suffix connoted obsession (my interpretation in this

Urban dictionary offers this definition for twilighter.

A human being who is a fan of Stephenie Meyer's 'Twilight Series',
consisting of 'Twilight', 'New Moon', 'Eclipse', and 'Breaking Dawn'.
Twilighters are usually quite addicted to the series, and would be
considered 'obsessed' by some. (Also known as 'Twi-Hards')

Some Star Trek fans prefer Trekker to Trekkie. Twilighter and Trekker
are not connected to ideology or religion (for most fans) but you
might want to include them when theorizing.

The term dead-ender also may be worth considering. Encarta definition:
military fanatical diehard: a person who is too fanatical in the
belief of a cause to accept the reality of defeat and to surrender,
typically engaging in insurgency and terroristic acts against
conquering forces.

Rumsfeld used dead-ender but the term  is malleable. The Los Angeles
Times ran an article in 2007 titled "Dead-Ender Presidency" referring
to Bush.

The American Dialect Society -

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