Sex ed and language

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 26 07:43:12 UTC 2010

When I was in the fifth grade, seventeen of the "male-sex" words,
thirteen of the "female-sex" words, and two of the bodily-fluid words
were completely unknown to me. But, as chance would have it, I learned
"come" (not "cum", because people _came_) almost the instant that I
entered the sixth grade. And then there's the conundrum that "cock"
and "pussy" had *absolutely* the same referent and no other: vagina,
female genitalia, among black speakers.

To this very day, reading um-literature, primarily written by white
authors, takes unusual effort because of the use of _cock_ to mean
"penis." "Had a cockstand"? Huh? Oh, right. He means, "was on the
bone." Like, can *you* imagine reading, "_He_ put _his_ hand on _her_
cock and began to fondle it"? Yet, that was precisely what a black
um-writer, had there been any in the 20th century, would have written,
without giving it a second thought. So, you can imagine the jarring
effect of trying to read a book containing sentences like, "_She_ put
_her_ hand on _his_ cock" on the average black reader of
um-literature, back in the day..

_Pee-pee_?! That was a euphemism used by parents. In the *first*
grade, we used "piss." We also used _boody_, but it meant only
"arse(hole)." "Tit(ty)" was used only WRT older women. Sixty years
ago, IME, girls under the age of sixteen or so were as flat-chested as
boys. Besides, in Catholic schools, girls were pretty much kept
separated from boys, except in the classroom and in church. From high
school on, separation of boys and girls became absolute in Saint
Louis: boys and girls didn't even go to classes in the same
neighborhood, let alone in the same building.


On Tue, May 25, 2010 at 1:42 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Sex ed and language
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Twig and cherries?
>     VS-)
> On 5/25/2010 11:20 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> Limited perhaps--but "tricycle"?
>> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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