[Ads-l] sexist "crazy"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 24 16:18:24 UTC 2016


But where does that perception come from?

And why is it to be preferred to a non-sexist perception?

Remember, the word is at issue, not the Tweeter.

JL

On Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 10:56 AM, Joel Berson <berson at att.net> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: sexist "crazy"
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> I have that "definite perception", that someone like Trump referring to a
> w=
> oman as "crazy" is being sexist.=C2=A0 Contra, if I understand him, to Jon.
>
>
> Joel
>
>       From: Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
>  To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU=20
>  Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 4:19 AM
>  Subject: Re: [ADS-L] sexist "crazy"
>   =20
> > On Mar 22, 2016, at 6:48 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> wrote=
> :
> >=20
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------=
> ------
> > Sender:=C2=A0 =C2=A0 =C2=A0 American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.
> =
> EDU>
> > Poster:=C2=A0 =C2=A0 =C2=A0 Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> > Subject:=C2=A0 =C2=A0 =C2=A0 Re: sexist "crazy"
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> ------
> >=20
> > And here are the lyrics to the theme song of the aforementioned TV show,
> =
> Crazy Ex-Girlfriendf:
>
> > http://genius.com/Rachel-bloom-crazy-ex-girlfriend-theme-song-lyrics
> >=20
> > Note the bit that goes:
> >=20
> > [Backup singers]
> > She's the crazy ex-girlfriend!
> >=20
> > [Rebecca, speaking]
> > That's a sexist term!
> >=20
> > ... There's a definite perception out there...
> >=20
>
> Throughout all of this discussion, Jon Lighter has insisted that "crazy X"
> =
> just means, and always means, 'X who is crazy', despite so many people's
> cl=
> ear perceptions that there are two different cases of "crazy X", which
> "fee=
> l" quite different. Jon is insisting that all adjectival modification is
> _s=
> ubsective_, picking out a subset of the class of things denoted by the
> head=
>  N that have the property denoted by the Adj. It is a very old observation
> =
> -- one that I have repeated in postings on Language Log and my blog since
> 2=
> 007 -- that this is just wrong, that there are both subsective and
> appositi=
> ve modifying adjectives; in appositive modification, the modifier denotes
> a=
>  property that holds for all (in a loose sense of "all") of the things
> deno=
> ted by the head N.
>
> The textbook example is "the industrious Chinese", in contrasting cases
> lik=
> e "The industrious Chinese will advance in society, while the others will
> f=
> all by the wayside" (intersective) vs. "The industrious Chinese have
> succee=
> ded in transforming their country" (appositive: "all" the=C2=A0 Chinese
> are=
>  industrious).
>
> I have noted that even in cases where the Adj holds for all instances of
> th=
> e N literally *by definition* -- as in "pilotless drones" and "legless
> eart=
> hworms" -- appositive modifiers can be useful in discourse, in that they
> ca=
> n remind the hearer or reader of a universal property of the things
> denoted=
>  by the head N. Similarly with cases where the property holds of all
> instan=
> ces not by definition but by law, as is the case for "illegal
> prostitution"=
>  in almost all U.S. jurisdictions.
>
> But back to cases that are potentially ambiguous between intersective and
> a=
> ppositive modifiers, which is what I now claim is going on with "crazy N".
> =
> Certainly there are plenty of intersective examples, but there are also
> not=
> able appositive ones, like "my crazy brother", said by someone who has
> only=
>  one brother (where it's parallel to constructions like "my lunatic of a
> br=
> other").
>
> Something like "my crazy ex-boyfriend" can be intended, and understood,
> eit=
> her way, but "my crazy ex-girlfriend" is very likely to be intended
> apposit=
> ively if you're someone who believes that ex-girlfriends are "by
> definition=
> " crazy, while ex-boyfriends are not -- and your usage is then likely to
> be=
>  be understood as sexist by hearers or readers, because it betrays your
> bel=
> ief. (Similarly, "vindictive ex-wife", if you're someoe who believes that
> e=
> x-wives are "by definition" vindictive, while ex-hubsbands are not.)
>
> Arnold
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
>


-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list