the (new) wh-word

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 12 17:42:50 UTC 2010

So we (some of us, anyway) are used to worrying about wh-words in
language:  who, what, where, when, why, and their ilk.  They even
have their own wiki site:
But now we have a new one:

Meg Whitman Called 'Whore' By Someone In Jerry Brown's Campaign ...
I'm not one to jump to the defense of the "wh" word, but in this

The NOW chapter of CA didn't even say what Jerry Brown and his aide
did was wrong by calling her the WH word and should apologize

Is it true that someone working for Brown called Meg Whitman the wh
word (ore)? And Jerry Brown did not scold him, but went along with it?

Can't be "the w-word" (because of how it sounds), can't be "the
h-word" (because of how it's spelled), so it's gotta be "the
wh-word", and damn the damage to the reputation of the heretofore
perfectly wh-olesome class of interrogative and relative pronouns.
(Maybe it serves us right, given the now well-established grammatical
tradition of invoking "n-word" to refer to a member of the set of
negative-incorporated indefinites (e.g. "nobody", "nothing", "nada",
"nadie", "niente",...).


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list