"Democrat party"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jun 1 13:15:35 UTC 2008

At 7:59 AM -0400 6/1/08, David Bowie wrote:
>From:    RonButters at AOL.COM
>>I agree with Larry, not only is it not a simple matter of "analogy," it is
>>also the case that it is simply impolite and childish to use terms
>>of reference
>>that the vast majority of the members of the referred-to group do not wish to
>>have used. "Democrat Party" is akin to name-calling--about as puerile as
>>"Repub-bull-ick Party would be."
>I challenge the "vast majority" claim.
>Vast majority of national Democratic Party figures, maybe. But the vast
>majority of Democrats? I suspect "don't know/don't care" would be the
>plurality (at least) response, were a poll taken.
>You brought up religious group names--the Mormon/LDS thing may be nicely
>parallel. In my experience, no US Mormons/LDS[1] find others' use of LDS
>impolite, but a fair number find others' use of Mormon impolite while
>many other US Mormons/LDS see no impoliteness in it at all. (I suspect
>this is regionally differentiated, but i can't be certain.) My best
>guess is that Democrat as a party label is, for Democrats, like Mormon
>is for Mormons/LDS.
>This isn't to say that Fox News types are using Democrat as a party
>label innocently--i think they're happily needling the sort of people
>that the use of the term needles--i'm just saying that i don't think it
>actually makes a difference to most hearers.

I resist this analogy too, as I expect Ron would.  The primary,
possibly the only, use of "Democrat party" is as an epithet (as even
the wikipedia entry notes); the intention is to "needle", as you say,
or more. But the primary, though not necessarily the only, use of
"Mormon" is neutral, with no insult intended.  For many gentiles (in
the relevant sense), the first encounter with "Mormon" is or was the
"Mormon Tabernacle" and especially the celebrated choir thereof,
which leads many (e.g. me) to infer that "Mormon" is more of a
self-designation than an outsider epithet.  Rightly or wrongly, I've
always thought of the difference between "Mormon" and "Latter-Day
Saints" to be parallel to that of "Sixth Avenue" and "Avenue of the
Americas", the colloquial vs. the official designation--another
dubious analogy, perhaps, but there you have it.   Since Democrats
never refer to their party as the Democrat party, and since the label
is used only by anti-Democrats, it's hard for me to buy the parallel
with "Mormon".


>[1] LDS is both singulars and plural, and a reference to both the church
>and its members. Now *there*'s multitasking for you!
>David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
>     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
>     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
>     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list