SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Increasingly Significant Issue

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Thu Apr 11 16:46:17 UTC 2002

--On Thursday, April 11, 2002 9:22 am -0700 Jewls2u <Jewls2u at WHIDBEY.COM>

> I live on an island in the Pacific NW where there is a fairly large
> population of people living in non-traditional families. The most common
> term for a mate here is partner. I have heard it from both homosexual and
> heterosexual people. It's not uncommon to here a married person refer to
> their spouse as their partner.

It strikes me here that in places where not being married (but
living/raising families together) is the norm, (UK and Julienne's island)
'partner' is the default, but in places where marriage is more 'norm' that
the issue of what to call such people is up in the air.

I wonder what effect 'domestic partner' has had on all this.  Has it made
'partner' more acceptable or more bureaucratese in places where that's a
legal status.

Here 'partner' is used for any long-term stable monogamous relationship,
even in some cases where the people don't live together.  It's the grown-up
version of 'girlfriend/boyfriend'.


Dr M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
Acting Director, MA in Applied Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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