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Old April 3, 2003, 21:30   #61
Boris Godunov
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agathon


Exactly. I am so sick and tired of people ignoring the fact that words can be used in new ways. I read somewhere that a college reprimanded someone for the use of the word "niggardly" even though they admitted that they knew what the word meant. I wish people could appreciate the fact that the meanings of terms are context dependent. Ditto for "man" - don't people know that this word has two meanings, one is species and the other is gender? Complaining doesn't change that fact. And frankly we've got more pressing concerns than worrying about the way people talk.

I've heard gay people use the term in the way this student used it. I think it is healthy that it is being used this way since it is a mild insult and mildly mocks the old fashioned "gay" stereotype, which in my opinion needs to be an object of fun because it is so silly and doesn't reflect reality (if it ever did).
The "niggardly" example isn't comparable, as it is using a totally different word that NEVER has a racial context and is from a totally different root. It's just ignorant people not knowing what the actualy word meant.

It isn't comparable to the "niggas" reasoning either, as the context there is one of affection for friends. And try to be a white kid and get away with saying that. At any rate, it is using a formerly derogatory word in a positive manner to negate its hurtful impact.

"That's gay" is the opposite case. It came into being PRECISELY because it was a derogatory way of referring to homosexuals. To be simple about it, people are using the term "gay" as synonymous with "bad" or "stupid." How is this NOT supposed to offend homosexuals when they hear people casually tossing such a thing about?

Once again, if people used [insert group identifyer here] as synonymous with something bad, why should we expect members of that said group not to get upset over it? Duh.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:35   #62
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Boris:

Who co-opted the word "gay" for their own purposes?

If you asked me, that's what started the whole problem, pulling a word from it's original moorings to serve a political point.


I agree with Agathon as well.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:39   #63
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boris Godunov

"That's gay" is the opposite case. It came into being PRECISELY because it was a derogatory way of referring to homosexuals. To be simple about it, people are using the term "gay" as synonymous with "bad" or "stupid." How is this NOT supposed to offend homosexuals when they hear people casually tossing such a thing about?.
Precisely, it "was" a derogatory way of referring to homosexuals. Now it's a way of referring to a bad tie or to something frivolously silly. No malice is intended against homosexuals - it doesn't mean that they are bad or frivolously silly although the stereotype is. Surely, you admit that there is something silly about the "fairy" stereotype, Boris? That's where it is coming from. Now if it was the term "shoe shiner" as someone used on this forum the other day, that's a different story. That term is meant to offend.

I guess when you come from a country where the most redneck district repeatedly elects a transexual ex-prostitute to parliament, the whole "gays are utterly downtrodden" thing loses some of it's force. I guess I'm one of the increasing number of people who think, "people are gay, so what?"
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:44   #64
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Quote:
Originally posted by obiwan18
Boris:

Who co-opted the word "gay" for their own purposes?

If you asked me, that's what started the whole problem, pulling a word from it's original moorings to serve a political point.


I agree with Agathon as well.
Oh please. At least know what you're talking about before you say crap like this:

http://www.wordorigins.org/wordorg.htm#gay

Quote:
The most likely explanation is that it derives from gaycat or geycat, a slang term for a tramp or hobo who is new to the road. Gaycats were commonly in the company of older tramps, implying a homosexual relationship. The term, according to Lighter, dates to at least the 1890s. Gaycats were employed as lookouts while other hoboes committed crimes. The OED2 cites the 1935 Underworld & Prison Slang by N. Ersine as defining geycat as a homosexual boy. The origin of gaycat is unknown. Green, however, says a gay cat was a tramp who offered sexual services to women.
I love the notion that homosexuals, as the sinister political group, just up and decided to call themselves "gay" because it would be nice to co-opt a word meaning "happy." This isn't borne out by any facts, however, and is a laughable notion, considering how entemology works.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:51   #65
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That's the etymology of the word gay?



http://www.takeourword.com/et_e-g.html#gay

Try this:Bill Bryson, again in Made in America, notes that prostitutes were known as gay women or gays in the 19th century. It is not known how gay later came to refer to homosexuals; this usage appeared in the late 1960's. Another source attributes the homosexual sense of the word to gay's older meaning, `excellent, gallant, fair,' and it gives the date of origin of the homosexual meaning as 1971. Gay `merry' likely came from Frankish via Old French gai `merry.' The original meaning in English, in around 1300, was `spelndid or beautiful.'

One reader notes that Cary Grant, in the film Bringing Up Baby, has an interesting scene in which, while wearing a woman's frilly robe, he says, "I'm feeling gay today."
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:52   #66
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agathon


Precisely, it "was" a derogatory way of referring to homosexuals. Now it's a way of referring to a bad tie or to something frivolously silly. No malice is intended against homosexuals - it doesn't mean that they are bad or frivolously silly although the stereotype is. Surely, you admit that there is something silly about the "fairy" stereotype, Boris? That's where it is coming from. Now if it was the term "shoe shiner" as someone used on this forum the other day, that's a different story. That term is meant to offend.

I guess when you come from a country where the most redneck district repeatedly elects a transexual ex-prostitute to parliament, the whole "gays are utterly downtrodden" thing loses some of it's force. I guess I'm one of the increasing number of people who think, "people are gay, so what?"
You're still utterly missing the point...it's still a derogatory way of using the word. When a gay person hears someone referring to something bad as "gay," it reinforces the notion that people think gay=bad.

I'll wager that even in heavenly Canada, high school kids encounter regular acts of homophobia and you don't see lots of gay kids coming out. Peer pressure and intolerance are indemic to school environments, after all.

And boy, I just love it when straight people tell me what I should and shouldn't be offended by!
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:54   #67
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agathon
Exactly. I am so sick and tired of people ignoring the fact that words can be used in new ways. I read somewhere that a college reprimanded someone for the use of the word "niggardly" even though they admitted that they knew what the word meant.
This is a blatant strawman.

Nothing discussed in this thread is ANYTHING like the word "niggardly" because that's not a racist/derogatory remark. I have no problem with that word, at all, and I doubt anyone else here does either.

Quote:
I think it is healthy that it is being used this way


Quote:
since it is a mild insult and mildly mocks the old fashioned "gay" stereotype, which in my opinion needs to be an object of fun because it is so silly and doesn't reflect reality (if it ever did).
It in no way refers to a stereotype of ANY kind, if refers to the SEXUALITY.

It's an insult and mocks a sexuality.

JrHigh/High School is the time when gay people are least likely to be accepted among their peers. I think it's a pretty safe assumption is that this is partially because JrHigh/High Schools so frequently use "gay" as an insult.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:55   #68
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And boy, I just love it when straight people tell me what I should and shouldn't be offended by!
You can be offended by it all you want. Just because you misinterpret the meaning of a word, however, doesn't mean the rest of us have to give a ****.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:55   #69
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Quote:
Originally posted by obiwan18
That's the etymology of the word gay?



http://www.takeourword.com/et_e-g.html#gay

Try this:Bill Bryson, again in Made in America, notes that prostitutes were known as gay women or gays in the 19th century. It is not known how gay later came to refer to homosexuals; this usage appeared in the late 1960's. Another source attributes the homosexual sense of the word to gay's older meaning, `excellent, gallant, fair,' and it gives the date of origin of the homosexual meaning as 1971. Gay `merry' likely came from Frankish via Old French gai `merry.' The original meaning in English, in around 1300, was `spelndid or beautiful.'

One reader notes that Cary Grant, in the film Bringing Up Baby, has an interesting scene in which, while wearing a woman's frilly robe, he says, "I'm feeling gay today."
Notice how none of that supports your implication that gays conspired to take the word away from you. And this source is clearly wrong about the date of the usage of "gay" to refer to homosexuals, as the link I provided for you shows:

Quote:
In their 1941 book Sexual Variations, Gershon Legman and G.V. Henry cite gay as a slang term for homosexual, which indicates that it was in use for some time prior.
If it was in common enough use to be cited in the book in 1941, it had to have had its origins well before that.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:56   #70
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boris Godunov
You're still utterly missing the point...it's still a derogatory way of using the word. When a gay person hears someone referring to something bad as "gay," it reinforces the notion that people think gay=bad.
This is precisely it.

Quote:
I'll wager that even in heavenly Canada, high school kids encounter regular acts of homophobia and you don't see lots of gay kids coming out. Peer pressure and intolerance are indemic to school environments, after all.
Yep. I only knew of ONE gay kid in my entire 2000-student high school here in Canada.

I've found out about a dozen more guys were gay since graduating. Nobody could/would come out in High School because the environment is so hostile to gay people in general.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:57   #71
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But why does this matter, Boris? The term "gay" is not now considered offensive by almost everyone. If I asked a homosexual if he was gay, he would say "Yes, I am" not "how dare you!". The meaning of a word is its normal use in a language. Use changes and so, therefore, does meaning.

You know I wonder sometimes. A few months back a Christian philosopher visited my university and was widely picketed by gay rights groups and associated organisations because he said homosexuality was a sin. I thought he was of the Fred Phelps ilk, but...

His actual view is that homosexuality is a sin on par with the sins of masturbation and having impure thoughts. Isn't this a tremendous victory for gay people that their crime is worthy of the same social sanctions meted out to masturbators and fantasists (i.e. none), when 30 years ago many people thought that homosexuals should undergo compulsory therapy to "fix" them?
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:58   #72
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Originally posted by Drake Tungsten
You can be offended by it all you want. Just because you misinterpret the meaning of a word, however, doesn't mean the rest of us have to give a ****.
How can you misinterpret it when someone uses your sexuality as an insult??

The problem is, using sexuality (or race, or religion, or anything else like that) as an insult is INHERENTLY offensive, regardless of if the person is intending to insult you or not.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:59   #73
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agathon
But why does this matter, Boris? The term "gay" is not now considered offensive by almost everyone. If I asked a homosexual if he was gay, he would say "Yes, I am" not "how dare you!". The meaning of a word is its normal use in a language. Use changes and so, therefore, does meaning.

Gay is a sexual orientation. Gay people can, correspondingly, consider themselves gay.

It is NOT OKAY to use that sexual orientation as a catch-all insult.

Just like it's not okay to say "Oh, that's so Jewish". The word itself isn't an insult, it becomes derogatory when it's USED as an insult.
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Old April 3, 2003, 21:59   #74
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Quote:
Originally posted by Drake Tungsten
Quote:
And boy, I just love it when straight people tell me what I should and shouldn't be offended by!
You can be offended by it all you want. Just because you misinterpret the meaning of a word, however, doesn't mean the rest of us have to give a ****.
How am I misinterpreting the meaning of the word? When people say "gay" and equate it to something bad, what's to misinterpret. You DO realize the origin of that phrase was to mock homosexuals, don't you?

So is a Jew misinterpreting it when someone says, "Don't be such a Jew?" If the person saying it didn't mean to offend Jews, should it be taken in stride?

Intent isn't what matters most, interpretation is.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:00   #75
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How can you misinterpret it when someone uses your sexuality as an insult??
It isn't being used as an insult. It has developed a new meaning.

I suppose you think every time a person says something is "lame" they are insulting the physically handicapped...
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:01   #76
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boris Godunov

You're still utterly missing the point...it's still a derogatory way of using the word. When a gay person hears someone referring to something bad as "gay," it reinforces the notion that people think gay=bad.
When a gay person hears someone refer to something midly crap (let's not confuse it by saying "bad") as gay and thinks that it reinforces the notion that homosexuals are bad, they are misunderstanding the meaning of the term. The hearer does not own the meaning of the term. The meaning of the term is fixed by its normal use in the speech community, not by you. What you are essentially arguing is that a word doesn't mean what it actually means, and that is absurd.

People use "gay" in this new way, no offence is meant to homosexuals, get over it.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:01   #77
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Quote:
Originally posted by Asher
The problem is, using sexuality (or race, or religion, or anything else like that) as an insult is INHERENTLY offensive, regardless of if the person is intending to insult you or not.
It's such a simple thing, you'd think more people would get it. Duh.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:02   #78
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People use "gay" in this new way, no offence is meant to homosexuals, get over it.
Exactly.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:03   #79
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Quote:
Originally posted by Drake Tungsten
It isn't being used as an insult. It has developed a new meaning.
This is the problem.

It has NOT developed a new meaning. The new meaning is to be "stupid, unacceptable". Where was the word derived from??

The sexuality.

How is this not offensive??

Quote:
I suppose you think every time a person says something is "lame" they are insulting the physically handicapped...
Lame, as it's always been defined, isn't restricted to the physically handicapped. It means "weak or ineffective", literally, so yeah -- things CAN be called lame without making any reference to the handicapped.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:04   #80
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boris Godunov

Intent isn't what matters most, interpretation is.
Bullsh*t. This would mean that all those loonies who hear some insult in everything that's said to them would be justified.

Contemporary use is what matters - that is what fixes the meanings of terms. People who don't keep up with this are just setting themselves up to be offended.

Perhaps you would like to suggest that the meanings of terms is something else than what contemporary use uses them to signify. I can't see any other alternative.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:05   #81
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agathon
People use "gay" in this new way, no offence is meant to homosexuals, get over it.
Alright then.

So it's okay if we start using Jew as a catch-all phrase, as long as we all think it has nothing to do with Jewish people in specific?

Agathon, how can you honestly think that? I'd think a professor of philosophy would be a little more intellectual than what you display on Apolyton.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:07   #82
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The origin of the word is rather obvious really. Homosexuals were having a gay time with their particular sexual prefference. The term was shortened by the community to simply 'gay'. Then the abbrecviated form came into use. People can still say that they are having a gay time but that is like saying that a certain attractive woman was properly reared. That is more correct than saying "raised" but it is not more discriptive (unless she really did have a proper rear.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:07   #83
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Hey guys, do me a favor and define "gay" for everyone then.

Basically, you guys are arguing that in the past 10-15 years or so, a new definition has emerged that makes it completely inoffensive to gay people.

I seriously cannot fathom how anyone could think that's not insulting.

The fact that virtually every gay person on here is TELLING you that it IS offensive should be an even bigger clue.

And telling those gay people not to be offended by it doesn't work. It's offensive because an insult derived from their sexuality is so mainstream now everyone uses it without thinking.

It cuts far deeper than most of you guys care to think. Obviously you don't care to think a lot, anyway.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:08   #84
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It has NOT developed a new meaning. The new meaning is to be "stupid, unacceptable". Where was the word derived from??

The sexuality.
It would be fabulous if you would prove this assertion...
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:09   #85
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Originally posted by Drake Tungsten
It would be fabulous if you would prove this assertion...
DUHHH????

Where the hell do you THINK the insult comes from?
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:09   #86
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agathon


Bullsh*t. This would mean that all those loonies who hear some insult in everything that's said to them would be justified.

Contemporary use is what matters - that is what fixes the meanings of terms. People who don't keep up with this are just setting themselves up to be offended.

Perhaps you would like to suggest that the meanings of terms is something else than what contemporary use uses them to signify. I can't see any other alternative.
Notice I said interpretation matters "more," not "entirely."

The problem is that the "contemporary use" you cite is by no means ubiquitous, as this incident shows. I would challenge you to use this kind of language in most work places. We'll see what happens. Do you think it would be appropriate for a teacher to talk like this in front of students in class?

Part of the furor over it is the battle over it's "contemporary use." I certainly don't know many people who use it in their everyday speech, and I live in a city where people say "****" in every other sentence.

The fact is that gays, among others, object to it's "contemporary use." Why? Because the phrase was derived as an insult to homosexuals, and still is implicitely so. To allow it to settle into "contemporary use" is to give a victory to those who coined the slur in the first place.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:10   #87
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Quote:
Originally posted by Asher

Where was the word derived from??

The sexuality.
No. I would argue that this use is derived from the stereotype of the "fairy" which is now rightly ridiculed by gays and non-gays alike. It is indirectly derived from the sexuality but that misses the whole point. In short it is a piece of insulting language that has been tamed and is now used ironically, just like young black people have reclaimed the word "nigga".

Quote:
It has NOT developed a new meaning. The new meaning is to be "stupid, unacceptable"
Wow.. "it has NOT" developed a new meaning, which makes it odd that you mention the new meaning in the very next sentence.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:11   #88
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Sorry, I'm going to go take a break before I do something stupid.

If Apolyton, a haven of generally intelligent people, is this backwards it really puts a damper on my outlook on life.

I'm really disappointed in almost everyone here. People still obviously don't care and don't understand how offensive the little things are, and how that can affect gay kids.

Whatever, who am I to think we should all be above that. It'll never happen.
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:13   #89
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agathon
Wow.. "it has NOT" developed a new meaning, which makes it odd that you mention the new meaning in the very next sentence.
I suppose I should have realized I was dealing with you.

I should have put the second "new meaning" in quotes -- does that help you?
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Old April 3, 2003, 22:14   #90
Boris Godunov
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agathon
No. I would argue that this use is derived from the stereotype of the "fairy" which is now rightly ridiculed by gays and non-gays alike. It is indirectly derived from the sexuality but that misses the whole point. In short it is a piece of insulting language that has been tamed and is now used ironically, just like young black people have reclaimed the word "nigga".
The illogic of this is so obvious it hurts.

Nigga = method of softening an offensive term, nigger, into one that is positive. It now means someone who is a good friend, a fraternal spirit.

Gay = method of taking a word that previously was inoffensive to homosexuals and making it offensive, by equating gays to stupid, bad things. And that's precisely why the phrase came into use.

Accepting it as common usage is condoning the origin of the phrase and equating homosexuals to bad, stupid things. Pretty simple.
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