pro-formal (?) nature of "guy"

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 4 04:36:09 UTC 2012

LH wrote: <<< argument for the pro-formal (?) nature of "guy" ... singular
"guy" . . . sex-neutral>>>

JB wrote: <<<"guy" has become gender-neutral … refers to a group of all

WB: How far has the feminization spread through the grammatical levels? And
diffused through the Anglologue community? WB early 1970s, JB Sep 29 or 30,
2012. (Q1) Was _you_guys_ (colloq 2nd pers pl) ever exclusively male,
before going epicene? Not for me; it was feminist use at UCB '70s. My
Chapman says _guy_ refers to either, but esp. men fr late 1800s; _guys_ to
women in address. {Aha moment: Holy mackerel, guy comes from Guy, a guy's
name. Wow.} Now that I think about it, I say to my daughters, <<What are
you guys up to?>> (no darlings), or to a man&woman couple <<What are you
guys doing for dinner?>> But to a couple of men, to say <<What's up,
guys?>> feels somewhat less appropriate; context requires something more
macho. (Q2) Any attestations of _guy_ (masc sg) coming out as epicoene?
(cf. LH's notes) <<Hey, guy, what's yer problem?>> (Only male in my
idiolect. Idionym-proform cross-over?) How about babies? <<Oh, what a cute
little baby, just look at this guy!>> (male only?  Maybe, if gender
unknown? [Can we still refer to sex-unknown infants as <<it>>?]) (Q3) Any
evidence of _Guy_ (masc idionym) being epicoenified, like Isidore, Joyce
(subsequently inducing male epicoenophobia)? (Guy only male for me.)

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