On Facebook, Ann Burlingham has passed on this posting (from February 1st), “Why Are We Referring to Women as Girls?” by Yashar Ali, about men referring to women in the workplace as girls. (Note: Yashar Ali is a man.)
Archive for the ‘Language and society’ Category
In the New Yorker of 8/26/13, a letter on p. 5 from Richard M. Perloff, Professor of Communication at Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH, beginning:
Hendrik Hertzberg, writing about Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, and their forerunners in the delicate pas de deux between private misdeeds and public behavior, assumes that sex scandals have an objective quality (Comment, August 12th and 19th). Whether a series of transgressions merits the label “scandal” is itself a contentious issue that is a function of social norms and cultural values.
Perloff goes on to discuss some specific cases, and I’ll get to these. But first some lexicographic notes.
The short version of an ad for a gay dating/cruising app:
MISTER is an online community for men who value themselves and other men. Unlike other gay social networking apps, MISTER encourages users to show their faces, show respect, spend less time searching and more time meeting men in the real world. The users of our app are proud to say, “I am MISTER.”
(There will eventually be a linguistic point.)
From “Pedigree” by Walter Kirn, a personal history in the June 10 & 17/13 New Yorker (the Crimes and Misdemeanors issue), about a con man and convicted murderer he knew as Clark Rockefeller:
He spoke with an accent, clipped and international, and occasionally tossed in a word (“erstwhile,” “improprietous”) that tied a bow on the sentence that included it. I’d met a few people like him during college [Princeton] — pedigreed, boastful, overschooled eccentrics who spoke like cousins of Katharine Hepburn and always seemed to have prematurely thinning hair and delicate, intestinal-pink skin. But I was brought up in rural Minnesota, deep in manure-scented dairy country, and never succeeded in getting close to them. Their clubs wouldn’t have me; I didn’t play their sports. (p. 91)
Turns out that Clark Rockefeller was born Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter in rural Bavaria and had
fashioned a manner based on a pop-culture travesty of wealth: Thurston Howell III, of “Gilligan’s Island.” (p. 92)
In the U.S. he ran through a number of identities, often connecting himself to famous people — among them, Christopher Chichester (Sir Francis Chichester), Christopher Crowe (Cameron Crowe), and of course Clark Rockefeller.
Speaking like a cousin of Katharine Hepburn is a nice touch.
So the strip is “about” hair(s), but it’s also “about” How ’bout them Cubbies?
(On a personal hair and holiday note: I’m watching Hairspray for Mothers Day.)
Over on ADS-L we’ve been discussing the etymology of chicano/Chicano, and Jon Lighter introduced the question of the social status of the ethnonym; it was his recollection that in the 1960s the word was used disparagingly, and that was my recollection and Larry Horn’s as well. But on the whole it’s been reclaimed, a process that was already underway by 1970, with the rise of chicano political consciousness.
From discussions of rape in recent news, the synthetic compounds slut-shaming and victim-blaming — and, no surprise, the back-formed verbs slut-shame and victim-blame.
A comment on my Crimplene posting:
Since you’ve been into ads in a big way recently, I think you’ll appreciate this one if you haven’t already seen it
It’s a Joe. My. God. column with this image, seen at the Belk department store:
Only two words in colored bottom, but there’s an issue with each of them.
Passed on by Gary Robert Kelly on Facebook this morning:
Bad Taxidermy Photos Are The Potato Jesus Painting Of The Animal World (by Josh Kurp, 11/14/12) [note the snowclone X is the Y of Z (here)]
Disfigured alive animals, not so funny. Disfigured dead animals, hi-larious. Now before calling me a serial killer (that’s only half true), know that I’m referring to animals that have been taxidermied, specifically animals that have been taxidermied terribly …
Thanks to a tip from Bobby Big Wheel, we were led on a path filled with cross-eyed cats, derpy-looking dogs, and whatever the hell happened to the poor guy you see above.
(In defense of the polar bear: his teeth are perfect. Reference here to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London”: I saw a werewolf drinkin’ a pina colada at Trader Vic’s / And his hair was perfect.)
In folk dialectology — the dialectology of ordinary people (not professionals) — some people are perceived as “having an accent”, while others don’t. Many times, but far from always, the people reporting on these phenomena believe they are accentless; accents are something other people have. (Typical folk reflections on these matters, in a California context, are noted here.)
And so we get, from Kathryn Campbell-Kibler (a card-carrying sociolinguist) this morning on Facebook:
Datum of the day: “Im sick of being told i have an accent. Bitch im from cleveland, you have the accent”
KCat is working this into a conference abstract on accent perceptions.