A Clockwork Orange

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 4 03:51:19 UTC 2012

On Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 1:28 AM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> In 1945, back from the army, I heard an 80-year-old Cockney in a
> London pub say that somebody was 'as queer as a clockwork orange'. The
> _'queer' did not mean homosexual_. It meant mad.

Whoa! Was it *really* the case that Burgess felt that it was necessary
to explain that _queer_, in *this* case, "did *not* mean
"homosexual"?! That is, it's the case that, in Britspeak, the primary
meaning of _queer_ is "homosexual," so much so that it heeds to be
specifically stated that an obscure phrase like "as queer as a
clockwork orange" does *not* mean "as _homosexual_ as a clockwork

I find that to be truly bizarre. No wonder that Turing felt driven to suicide.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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

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