sped = special ed

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Wed Jun 30 19:26:35 UTC 2010

Isn't the idea simply that those regarded as "smart" in one group might appear "dumb" in another group?

In Georgia in the early 1980s, my elementary-school-aged son and his peers commonly employed the insult "You L.D.!"  "L.D." meant 'learning disabled' in the public-education parlance of the day.  There we see the common process of a euphemism's developing into a disparagement.



----- Original Message -----
From: "Benjamin Zimmer" <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 1:52 PM

> On Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 10:43 AM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC
> <Bill.Mullins at us.army.mil> wrote:
>> As a noun:
>> New York Times, The (NY) - Sunday, August 9, 1987 p. 26 col 1
>> "Slang expressions were exchanged. Our "nerds" are their " speds ." "
> A little odd to think of "nerds" and "speds" as interchangeable, but
> perhaps the focus was on lack of social graces (cf. "spaz") rather
> than on intelligence.
>> Post-Tribune (IN) - Sunday, December 10, 1989 p B1
>> " They're teased on the buses and at schools, and the other students
>> call them ' speds .'"
> This one accords with my memory of grade-school taunts (central New
> Jersey in the '80s), though "tard" was much more common. (There was
> also "tart," as in "tart cart," for the "short bus" taking special-ed
> kids to school.)
> --Ben Zimmer

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

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