"dog whistles"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 8 15:42:39 UTC 2014

Slate has an article mentioning "rootless cosmopolitan" and presenting
a relatively new example in this topic area of synecdoche and

Article: Russia's Anti-Western Rhetoric Is Spreading
Author: Anne Applebaum
Date: March 28, 2014


[Begin excerpt]
The lawyer meant to say that Saakashvili--who drove his country hard
in the direction of Europe, who pulled Georgia as close to NATO as
possible, who used rough tactics to fight the post-Soviet mafia that
dominated his country--was "too Western." Not conservative enough. Not
traditional enough. Too much of a modernizer, a reformer, a European.
In the past, such a critic might have called Saakashvili a "rootless
cosmopolitan." But nowadays the insulting code word for that sort of
person in the former Soviet space--regardless of what he or she
actually thinks about gay people--is "LGBT."
[End excerpt]

(I replaced each -- with -- because sometimes email transport scrambles dashes.)


On Sat, Apr 5, 2014 at 10:19 PM, Geoffrey Nunberg
<nunberg at ischool.berkeley.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Geoffrey Nunberg <nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "dog whistles"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I make it with vodka and Cointreau, but hold the cranberry and lime... a fruitless cosmopolitan.
> Geoff
>> > If you were going to botanize this device according to traditional rhetorical categories, metonymy seems to me less apt than synecdoche, in its less common meaning of "whole for part." To qualify as a dog-whistle, a statement has to be ambiguous between a literal meaning and a potential conveyed meaning that the speaker can plausibly deny. That means that both meanings have to be of the same type-- e,g. "hoodie wearers," "food stamp recipients" or "the bling crowd" (once used by National Review) for blacks; "city boy" for Jews, etc.
>> cf. "cosmopolitan" (or, if more specificity was needed, "rootless cosmopolitan") for 'Jew'.   Wonder if anyone has tried marketing "Rootless Cosmopolitan" as a drink, as an act of reclamation.  (Maybe with a dill pickle wedge in place of the usual lime.)
>> LH
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