Archive for the ‘Language and ethnicity’ Category

He had an American name

October 8, 2017

Yesterday, on the Our Bastard Language group on Facebook, this entertaining item passed on by two members of the group from Thunder Dungeon’s page:

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Despite the fact that many Americans are accustomed to confronting, almost every day, names they don’t recall ever having heard before — well, most of us have ancestries from elsewhere, a lot of different elsewheres — there are still many names we recognize as “American”, even if we have some sense of the ethnic heritage of the bearers of those names. They might be perceived as English, Scots, Dutch, Irish, German, Jewish, Italian, Mexican-American, French, or whatever, but for us they count as American. And we are keenly aware of divergences from the set of typically American names, as above: Steve is an American personal name, Sleve is not; Dwight is an American personal or family name, Dwigt is not; Hudnutt is an American family name, Dugnutt is not; Gonzalez is an American family name, Bonzalez is not.

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This weekend’s tv hunk

February 25, 2017

… hails from New Zealand. Pana Hema Taylor (or Hema-Taylor), who I recently watched in the first season of the New Zealand detective series The Brokenwood Mysteries, in which he plays Jared Morehu. The man in a p.r. head shot:

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Hema Taylor has a sturdy physique, a powerful but attractive face, and a strong physical presence – definitely a hunk.

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X queen

December 19, 2015

I’ll be posting mostly about a family of snowclonelet composites of the form X queen, in which the queen component is a word going back to Old English, with the meaning ‘woman, wife’, though a lot of history has intervened. Eventually we get to things like

the gay partner-preference snowclonelet X queen, denoting ‘gay man who prefers Y men as romantic or sexual partners’, where Y is a class of people and where X refers to something, typically a food, associated with Y

— for example, rice queen, denoting a man, typically white, with a preference for partners who are East Asians or of East Asian descent (given that rice is a characteristic food of East Asians).

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Armenian days

April 27, 2015

Some time ago I came to consciousness in the middle of the night to intriguing music from WQXR (classical music from NYC): a collage of melodies, many hauntingly semi-familiar. Hmm, Charles Ives? Not any Ives I recognized, and quieter and less assertive than you expect from Ives. Unfamiliar and charming.

Symphony No. 50 Mount St Helens by Alan Hovhaness. And that took me to Armenians in the U.S., especially to the west of Boston (near where I lived when I was in grad school); to the Armenian diaspora; and to the genocide, a hundred years ago, that triggered the dispersal of Armenians.

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Note: ethnic names

April 19, 2015

In the NYT on the 17th an obit by Daniel Slotkin, “Ira Lewis, Actor and Playwright, Dies at 82”. Fascinating life in the theater, ending with this familial note:

Mr. Lewis, who lived in Westfield, N.J., is survived by two brothers, Marvin and Seymour.

Lovely: Ira, Marvin, and Seymour, three traditional American Jewish names. Times have changed. A couple of generations ago, such names went out of fashion, to be replaced by more generically “American” (gentile) names — for men, by a collection of Irish-derived names. So Ira, Marvin, and Seymour became Kevin, Sean, and Brady.