[Ads-l] Antedatings of the Term "Gay" (Homosexual)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 22 05:47:44 EST 2019


Congratulations, on your magnificent lexicographical research, Fred.
Finding an instance in a manuscript in a box signals impressive old
school  effort. The earliest instances of slang and taboo words may be
found in difficult to access diaries and letters that remain
undigitized.

Ben Zimmer said:
> This is one of those cases where it would be great if
> the OED provided a more explicit treatment of the revision history of
> online entries.

Maintaining a complete and accessible revision history in Wikipedia is
an impressive accomplishment. Wikipedia's code is open source. Of
course, digital files stored via magnetic media can be altered, and
the revision history can be falsified.

If maintaining the history of our society matters then digital files
must periodically be saved in 'permanent' substrates that are securely
maintained. No substrate is permanent, and anything can be altered at
the molecular level. The best we can hope for are long-lived
substrates that are difficult to modify.

Garson

On Sat, Dec 21, 2019 at 12:37 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Stellar work, Fred. This is one of those cases where it would be great if
> the OED provided a more explicit treatment of the revision history of
> online entries. There's no way of knowing what's changed in the "gay" entry
> since the OED3 revised entry was first published in June 2008.
>
> On Sat, Dec 21, 2019 at 12:25 PM Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu>
> wrote:
>
> > I am proud that my discovery of a 1934 usage of the term "gay" meaning
> > "homosexual" has been accepted by the OED as the earliest known citation.
> > Acceptance by the OED is in this instance a big deal, as there are many
> > early occurrences of the word "gay" in homosexual contexts that are too
> > general or too ambiguous for them to accept as antedatings.
> >
> > I copy below the first three fully accepted citations from the revised OED
> > entry for this sense of "gay."  The first one, and also the third one, were
> > contributed by me.  I also contributed to them a 1939 citation that is
> > clearly unambiguously a usage of "gay" meaning "homosexual" but which they
> > have not added to the entry.
> >
> > 1934   Let. 26 May (transcript, Univ. of Chicago Libr.: Ernest W. Burgess
> > Papers, Box 98, Folder 11)    Yes I did hear of your gay parks and
> > beaches... As for gay places there just aren't any in town. We generally go
> > to Detroit.
> > ?1937   Typescript (anon., ‘I was twenty years at the time’) (Univ. of
> > Chicago Libr.: Ernest W. Burgess Papers, Box 98, Folder 11) 1   Al had told
> > me that Kenneth was not gay but jam [i.e. heterosexual], and so I acted
> > very manly.
> > 1940   A. Bernstein Millions of Queers (typescript, National Libr. Med.:
> > HMD Coll. MS B 198) 59   No gossiping Winchell nor encyclopedic W.P.A.
> > guide book ever lists the gay places (using ‘gay’ in our specialized sense
> > of ‘queer’).
> >
> > The first two of these citations have the effect of lessening the
> > importance of the controversy about Cary Grant's ad-libbed use of "gay"
> > while wearing a women's negligee in the 1938 movie "Bringing Up Baby."
> >
> > Fred Shapiro
> > Editor
> > YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)
> >
> >
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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


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