Consumer advocacy in Florida

From Emily Rizzo on Facebook, a news story from her home state of Florida. As it was reported on the My Suncoast site (ABC 7 WWSB in Sarasota) on the 21st under the headline:

Florida has its first LGBTQ consumer advocate

Pulling out the nominal of interest here (boldfaced above) and simplifying a bit, I’ll look at

gay consumer advocate

which I interpreted at first as ‘consumer advocate who is gay’, parallel to gay state senator or gay city manager, with consituency

Adj + [ N + N ]

giving the outer-Adj readings ‘state senator who is gay’ or ‘city manager who is gay’. We are, after all, accustomed to hearing reports of the first (openly) gay holders of various offices and statuses.

But no, the intended constituency was

[ Adj + N ] + N

with the inner-Adj reading ‘advocate for gay consumers’, parallel to gay office location ‘location of/for the gay office’ and gay linguistics book ‘book about gay linguistics’. Florida’s new advocate, Shenika “Nik” Harris, is in fact the advocate for LGBTQ consumers.

So gay consumer advocate turns out to be ambiguous, not just in principle but also in practice. (Compare gay event coordinator out of context, where it’s easily seen to be ambiguous.)

More on the ambiguity. Yes, I’ll get to Nik Harris, who’s a great story all on her own. But first a little history of Adj + N + N on this blog  (and Language Log).

In my 5/17/15 posting “Adj + N + N”, I looked at this Zippy strip:


with two parsings for the Adj + N + N permanent laundry markers:

(1) Adj + [ N + N ] ‘laundry markers that are permanent’ [the outer-Adj reading] (Griffy’s intent)

(2)  [ Adj + N ] + N ‘markers for permanent laundry’ [the inner-Adj reading] (Zippy’s understanding)

We’ve been here before — notably, in a Language Log posting from 2008 on Big Penis Book, which turned out to have been a volume that was both a big book about penises and a book about big penises, though the latter reading was the one the publishers had in mind (the primary audience for the book being people interested in big penises).

(#2) Dian Hansen’s big penis book

As I wrote then,

The ambiguity of big penis book is a familiar one in English linguistics; little girls’ school is a much more decorous textbook example.

… My files contain a few other Adj + N + N intended with constituency (2) that are risible if understood with constituency (1):

wearable computing engineer, rechargeable battery tycoon, off-leash dog walker

Welcome to the world of wearable engineers, rechargeable tycoons, and off-leash walkers of dogs.

Nik Harris. From the My Suncoast story:

Tallahassee, Fla. (AP) — Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki [short for Nicole] Fried has appointed the state’s first LGBTQ consumer advocate.

Fried announced Thursday that she appointed Nik Harris to the newly created position. Harris is a former lawyer with the Florida Department of Transportation.

Fried said in a news release that Harris will raise awareness about opportunities for LGBTQ residents in agriculture industry and address discrimination and fraud that targets the community.

Fried said she wants to make sure LGBTQ Floridians “have a voice in defending their safety, economic security, and well-being.”

More detail on the department’s website:

A licensed Florida attorney since 2004, Harris has worked at the Florida Department of Transportation for over a decade and most recently served as Senior Attorney, where she provided legal counsel including negotiation, drafting, and review of contracts, intergovernmental agreements, permits, and more. Harris has been a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community and equality and diversity, serving as a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Florida Bar Association, and has been involved with the Human Rights Campaign as a member of the Board of Governors, … [other estimable community service]. Harris has also been a member of the Dolphin Democrats’ Board of Directors and a LGBTA Democratic Caucus member.

… Harris is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Law and the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University [a public, historically black university in Tallahassee].

The picture you’re forming in your mind is of a businesslike young black woman. And that’s not exactly wrong. Here’s the main photo from her Twitter account, an informal shot:

(#3) Her capsule self-description there: Attorney. Activist. Speaker. Queer Melanin Magic.

Ah, queer melanin magic. Smiles.

Also among her photos, several of her in business apparel, as here:

(#4) Dark men’s business suit, white shirt, dark tie: an entirely serious but stylish and unthreatening self-presentation

She doesn’t have much power at the moment — there aren’t many Democrats in Florida’s state government (not to mention queers or people of color) — but I’d watch her.

One Response to “Consumer advocacy in Florida”

  1. [BLOG] Some Monday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky builds from a report of a new LGBTQ consumer advocate from Florida, Nik […]

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