Yesterday’s morning name was chub (the name of a fish), which led me to the rest of the bilabial-final family: chum, chump, and chup. (And that led to the velar-final family chug, Chung, chunk, chuck, but I won’t pursue that one here.) As it is, the bilabials will lead us into many surprising places, including the Hardy Boys books, eyewear retainers, Australian dog food, gay slurs, and hunky underwear models.
Archive for the ‘Address terms’ Category
A Doonesbury cartoon reprinted in Doonesbury Dossier: The Reagan Years (1984):
Reproduced here without political comment. But one brief linguistic note.
The 1975 quotation (in Green’s Dictionary of Slang) is from a (British working-class) policeman, who “levelled a finger at” a man and made this accusation. My interest here is in the address term sunshine, which has become familiar to me though British (occasionally Canadian) police procedural tv shows, where the cops (or private detectives) often use this form of address, aggressively, to male suspects. From the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (ed. Tom Dalzell & Terry Victor, 2015), p. 2192:
used as a form of address, often patronizing with an underlying note of disapproval or threat UK, 1972
A (very natural) extension of literal sunshine to ‘cheerfulness, happiness’ has been around for some time, as has the extension to someone who exhibits or elicits cheerfulness or happiness, in both referential and vocative uses. Then, the address term sunshine (like any other) can be used sarcastically, aggressively, or truculently, but the conventionalization of such uses specifically in British (and not American) English, for use to men by men, especially by official authorities, is yet a further development, one that I hadn’t experienced until I got into modern police procedurals, in books and on tv.
… as Baron Rees-Mogg of Hinton Blewitt was to be properly addressed (from 1988 until his death in 2012). Before that, he was just William Rees-Mogg, of The Times:
I’m a fan of the ITV police procedural series Midsomer Murders and also a sometime scholar of address terms, so my ears perked up in S16 E1 of the show, in which DS Charlie Nelson (N), played by Gwilym Lee, joins DI John Barnaby (B), played by Neil Dudgeon, for their first case together and B tells N to investigate recording devices at the scene of the murder. Then:
N: I’m on to that, guv.
B: I’m sure this is the start of a successful working relationship, DS Nelson, but it’ll go a lot more smoothly if you don’t call me “guv”.
B objects to N’s guv ‘sir’ (used for a boss). B sees it as inappropriately informal: too matey. B is middle class, while N is depicted as of working class origins — guv is notably working class — and also quite informal in his dress and approach to social relations. So N probably sees guv as respectful within his bounds of class and formality (though he understands how to use sir), but for B it’s doubly out of bounds; it’s hard to imagine B ever using guv to anyone, except playfully.
The story of the address term bro in relatively recent years begins with its use by black men to black men, roughly (but not exactly) like the widely used American buddy — a term of male affiliation. It then spread into the wider culture, serving as a mark of male solidarity. This is what I called in a 4/12/16 posting “good”, positive, bro. But male solidarity tends to come with a dark side: rejection of anything perceived as feminine, played out as sturdy misogyny and homo-hatred in general; and the elevation of boys’ clubs (formed for whatever reasons) to boys-only clubs, aggressively hostile to women and to men perceived as inferior. When these guys use bro to address (or refer to) one another, then we’ve got what I called “bad”, negative, bro.
Regular use of bad bro between men in groups, for instance by fraternity boys and so-called brogrammers, has led to a steady pejoration of the term for people outside those male groups; bro is now a tainted term for many people, calling up unpleasant images of aggressive masculinity.
A brief review of these matters on this blog, then two recent entries in the conversation. And a cartoon too!
(Some genuine language stuff in here, but in the context of serious man-man sex described in very plain language, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)
On the 25th, this ad (from a gay porn aggregation service using the name Genuine Lust), under the heading “Crossed Swords”, referring both to weapons and to penises:
This is serious role reversal, on (at least) three fronts: class, status, and race/ethnicity. Meanwhile, the text (in the dialogue above, and in some ad copy) is both bizarre and rife with errors (of various kinds) in English. The ad copy:
Beautiful themed movies with only the best actors shot with the best cameras the humanity ever known. Watch these sirs.