[Ads-l] dude = 'person of any gender'

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 27 19:35:48 UTC 2021

See also my WSJ column last September on "dude," which I wrote for the
release of the movie "Bill & Ted Face the Music":

Paywalled: https://bit.ly/dudebillted
Archived: https://archive.is/9fMIN

Here's an excerpt:

"In 'Bill & Ted Face the Music,' the words 'dude' or 'dudes' appear more
than 100 times in the dialogue, usually spoken by Bill or Ted. But this
time, Bill and Ted are middle-aged fathers of young women who also, as it
happens, say 'dude' quite a lot -- including to each other, since now the
term can be non-gender-specific. ... In a 2004 article for the journal
American Speech simply entitled 'Dude,' Scott F. Kiesling, a linguistics
professor at the University of Pittsburgh, points to 'Fast Times [at
Ridgemont High]' and the 'Bill and Ted' movies as key pop-cultural
disseminators of 'dude,' used by characters who 'take a laid-back stance to
the world, even if the world proves to be quite remarkable.' In 'Face the
Music,' Bill and Ted’s daughters carry on that laid-back legacy. Mr.
Kiesling told me that he watched the movie online with his own daughter the
day it came out, and he found Billie and Thea’s 'dude'-heavy dialogue true
to life. 'I have three daughters and stepdaughters, and they all definitely
throw "dude" around unremarkably,' he said. That’s most excellent, dude."

Larry mentioned the previous widening of "guy" into gender-neutral terrain
-- I discussed this in an earlier column, pegged to Billie Eilish's 2019
hit song "Bad Guy" (in which she sings, "I'm the bad guy... huh?").

Paywalled: http://bit.ly/badguybz
Archived: https://archive.is/CTFpT


On Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 2:13 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>

> Nice.  The locus classicus for “dude” widening is Scott Kiesling’s 2004
> American Speech paper of that name.  It would be interesting to revisit his
> data now to see how much it’s progressed, especially in non-vocative
> contexts like McCarthy’s.  And it’s also non-referential, which also helped
> earlier with the growth of sex-neutral singular “guy”. (One of my early
> examples is “the other guy is a girl”, from a speaker who might not have
> been as likely to identify a woman as “the guy in the corner”.)

On Jan 27, 2021, at 12:57 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> wrote:
> Not new, but worth noting:
>> Gina McCarthy, White House Climate Adviser (age 66), on CNN just now:
>> "I'm the dude who's supposed to deliver this in a timely way."

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

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