Eggheads' Naughty Word Games

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Dec 28 05:22:32 UTC 2004

At 10:02 PM -0500 12/27/04, Grant Barrett wrote:
>You probably don't know this, but Strausbaugh more often writes for the
>alternative-alternative weekly, New York Press, here in New York City.
>He's a crank import from Baltimore--the classic uncompassionate
>conservative with about as much goodwill and charisma as can fit in a
>skeeter sphincter. His M.O. is, typically, to take any view which
>opposes what he perceives as the traditional Village Voice editorial
>stance. He writes about sports sometimes, too, because he thinks it
>makes him more likeable. It doesn't.
>You practice your two-step, I'll bring the coffee table.
>Grant Barrett

and lest one think it's only those lit critters' ox that's being
gored, one of the apparently too-silly-to-contemplate titles mocked
in the article is the eminently interesting
"Dude!  Your dress is so cute!  Patterns of semantic widening in
'dude'", which, Mr. Strausbaugh informs us, represents "an almost
abject embrace of low/popular culture".  Evidently, if "dude" used to
be applied solely to males and is now generalized to women as well,
at least as a vocative, and thus is following in the footsteps of
"guy", this isn't something we need to worry our pretty little heads
about.  Clearly this is all just too infra dig when it applies to
low/popular cultural items, although perhaps we're allowed to notice
it when it affects words of middlebrow standing or above.  (Perhaps
this is the same research by Scott Kiesling reported in that
piece mentioned earlier this month,
--but this would only be more evidence that the media is paying too
much attention to us table-dancers.)


>On Dec 27, 2004, at 21:25, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>>so goes the NYT headline (p. B1, 12/27/04) for this year's pissy snarky
>>story (by John  Strausbaugh) ... this is not a quotation; this is the
>>journalist's own voice.  it's not labeled as opinion, but, hey, this is
>>a feature story, so i guess anything goes.)

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