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  #1  
Old 12-07-2011, 11:30 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Don we now our *bright* apparel?

Michigan teacher changed lyrics from "gay" to "bright" because the pupils kept laughing.

Wanna weigh in on this?
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:31 AM
unwashed brain unwashed brain is offline
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I'm cool with it.
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:42 AM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
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I don't know about your apparel, but mine is still in the closet.
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:50 AM
Athena Athena is offline
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I've had some friends on Facebook debating this.

Most people are OK with it, citing that language changes, and "gay" unfortunately does not mean what it used to mean. Given that the song is not some ancient and sacred piece of writing (aka, it's not a Shakespeare sonnet), lots of people think the change is unfortunate but necessary.

And then you add in the teachers, who talk about dealing with the snickers and elbow-jabs from 12- and 13-year-old boys singing the song, and I see why some people might REALLY like the change.

Me? I guess I just don't care either way.
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:55 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is online now
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So, maybe if they redid this old pen commercial nowadays, they'd say, "so bright and BRIIIIIIIGHT."
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:03 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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I'm with the principal. The teacher missed a chance to, you know, TEACH.
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:11 PM
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It's not like this is some variant created by the teacher, either. I've heard produced music use the single modified word. I've also heard other carols updated; for instance:
Angels we have heard on high,
Singing sweetly through the night,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brave delight.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?
What glad tiding did you hear?
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:16 PM
Typo Negative Typo Negative is offline
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It's the 'Don we now' that gets to me.
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:34 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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"Changed because the kids were being little turds" is better than "changed preemptively to avoid controversy." The principal's response was a bit much, though.
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:36 PM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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Sounds like he's just trolling (the ancient yuletide carol).
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:49 PM
heathen earthling heathen earthling is offline
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They'll just have to change it again when "bright" becomes synonymous with irreligious.
  #12  
Old 12-07-2011, 01:02 PM
Azeotrope Azeotrope is offline
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Originally Posted by Malleus, Incus, Stapes! View Post
I don't know about your apparel, but mine is still in the closet.
Consider yourself decked with a bough of holly
  #13  
Old 12-07-2011, 01:31 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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People named Don find this offensive.
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:37 PM
Giles Giles is offline
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People named Don find this offensive.
Unless they wear gay apparel.
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:41 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Unless they wear gay apparel.
Bright apparel.

Actually, this song is really sexist. I say we change Don to Dawn.
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:52 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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So, maybe if they redid this old pen commercial nowadays, they'd say, "so bright and BRIIIIIIIGHT."
Was that Charles Nelson Reilly?
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:56 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Sounds sensible to me. Scans fine, too.

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Originally Posted by Scarlett67 View Post
I'm with the principal. The teacher missed a chance to, you know, TEACH.
Nah. The kids will know what full well what gay means in this context - there's no way they think it's a carol about homosexual clothes.
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:47 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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Angels we have heard on high,
Singing sweetly through the night,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brave delight.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?
What glad tiding did you hear?
This makes less sense than the change in the OP. What's confusing about the original words?

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plain
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strain.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?


Are they trying to avoid the word strains? Does it make10 year old boys think of being constipated?

Last edited by Skammer; 12-07-2011 at 02:48 PM.
  #19  
Old 12-07-2011, 03:25 PM
perfectparanoia perfectparanoia is offline
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My 8 year old was singing that the other night, stopped in the middle and said, 'All the other kids in my class think that 'gay apparel' is funny. They just don't know what it means.'

I asked her what it meant and she said 'fun and happy.' Which was good. I asked her if she knew what the other meaning was and she said, 'When boys love boys or girls love girls the way I love Justin Bieber.'

So, on the one hand, total parenting win because she knew what it was and it doesn't throw her at all. On the other hand, Justin Bieber.
  #20  
Old 12-07-2011, 03:30 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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I asked her what it meant and she said 'fun and happy.' Which was good. I asked her if she knew what the other meaning was and she said, 'When boys love boys or girls love girls the way I love Justin Bieber.'
Oh lord. I was actually taking a sip of water while reading the last few words of that. We nearly had a keyboard emergency!
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Old 12-07-2011, 03:55 PM
Arkcon Arkcon is online now
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Brian, don we now our gay apparel.
*SIGH* Doesn't get much gayer than this.
  #22  
Old 12-07-2011, 04:06 PM
Biggirl Biggirl is offline
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When I was in elementary school we learned Little Drummer Boy with the line "the ox and lamb kept time". Many of the students-- including me-- corrected the teacher. She let us sing the word 'ass'.
  #23  
Old 12-07-2011, 04:26 PM
Enright3 Enright3 is online now
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I'm all for the teacher trying to keep the peace; but sometimes kids will be kids.
It has to take more effort to get the kids to use a different word than than just let the kids have their smirk.
When I grew up in the 70s you used to see the word faggot a lot more; meaning twigs and such. We had (I assume) the same reaction. A lot of sniggering ensued and we went on with our lives.
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:50 PM
Miller Miller is online now
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I have to admit, it's kind of nice to see more stories about institutional over-reactions because people are worried about offending gays, as opposed to institutional over-reactions because people are worried about offending homophobes. But it's still an over-reaction. Laughing because the word "gay" has a double meaning isn't homophobic. Neither is changing the word to get the kids to shut up and sing the damn song.

But it's small change in the grand scheme of things: nobody's getting in trouble over the change, or the song, so really, who cares?
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:39 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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I think there should be a required vocabulary test of words that use to mean this but now mean that.

On this list would be:

Gay
Queer
Ejaculate: definition #2.

Titular.

Fabulous. I don't know about you, but I've never heard this in any term but in either FABULOUS! in the sparkly sense or completely sarcastic.
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Old 12-07-2011, 09:59 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Fabulous. I don't know about you, but I've never heard this in any term but in either FABULOUS! in the sparkly sense or completely sarcastic.
Don't let Skald hear you say that!

Personally, while I understand the teacher's intentions, I fear it'll be counterproductive. The students are guaranteed to hear the other version, and the changed word will call attention to it (well, even more attention). Pretty soon, you'll have the class singing the song, and you'll get most of the class mumbling most of it, and then shouting out the word GAY! over the teacher's "bright".
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Old 12-07-2011, 10:07 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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It's the 'Don we now' that gets to me.
You're right. It should be "Bruce we now."
  #28  
Old 12-07-2011, 10:50 PM
FlyByNight512 FlyByNight512 is offline
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Hm. The only time I remember giggles over that line was when someone decided to change it to 'glad' in the overhead we were singing from. And that was less giggling and more show-stopping laughter at how crazy that little college was. Yes, college.
  #29  
Old 12-07-2011, 10:59 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Everything I wear is, by definition, gay apparel . . . but not much of it is bright.
  #30  
Old 12-07-2011, 11:01 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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I have to admit, it's kind of nice to see more stories about institutional over-reactions because people are worried about offending gays, as opposed to institutional over-reactions because people are worried about offending homophobes. But it's still an over-reaction. Laughing because the word "gay" has a double meaning isn't homophobic. Neither is changing the word to get the kids to shut up and sing the damn song.

But it's small change in the grand scheme of things: nobody's getting in trouble over the change, or the song, so really, who cares?
You don't see the problem with changing a truly innocent word just to prevent children snickering? They should be educated and grow up. Have them write it 200 times and they won't see the humor.

You really think it's "kind of nice" to see overreactions by tinpot institutional dictators? Remember the guy who lost his job over "niggardly"? You seriously want people to watch every word they say in fear of being called out? If you really don't see a problem with that, that's a problem.
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:05 AM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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I too agree with the teacher. On one hand you can say it still draws attention to the line, but on the other kids are very literal and there's no way they're gonna sing the word gay without snickering. And no, doing that is not a fucking hate crime.

Plus, according to the Master, gay kinda always meant, well, gay.
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:47 AM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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What if "Don" has connotations of mob bosses?
  #33  
Old 12-08-2011, 08:18 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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You don't see the problem with changing a truly innocent word just to prevent children snickering? They should be educated and grow up. Have them write it 200 times and they won't see the humor.

You really think it's "kind of nice" to see overreactions by tinpot institutional dictators? Remember the guy who lost his job over "niggardly"? You seriously want people to watch every word they say in fear of being called out? If you really don't see a problem with that, that's a problem.
They KNOW the meaning. But it's a funny word in context, so they giggle in the middle of a song, which makes them go out of time.

Your second paragraph is a parody, surely?
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:25 AM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest View Post
I think there should be a required vocabulary test of words that use to mean this but now mean that.

On this list would be:

Gay
Queer
Ejaculate: definition #2.

Titular.

Fabulous. I don't know about you, but I've never heard this in any term but in either FABULOUS! in the sparkly sense or completely sarcastic.
Wait! What does 'titular' mean now?
  #35  
Old 12-08-2011, 08:33 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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So, maybe if they redid this old pen commercial nowadays, they'd say, "so bright and BRIIIIIIIGHT."
That commercial was probably from the early 1970s, well into the era when "gay" meant "homosexual" more so than "delightful". I'm surprised it aired like that, especially with Charles Nelson Riley in the lead.
  #36  
Old 12-08-2011, 08:38 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Gay
Queer

[snip]
Would "butch" be in there too? It used to be a common male nickname, but now i hear it almost exclusively in reference to masculine lesbians.

Somewhat off-topic: there's also superlatives that have lost their meaning over time ("deluxe" comes to mind). Don't forget "special", which seems to be shifting thanks to "A very special" TV shows and its use as a replacement for "retarded".
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:42 AM
Sigmagirl Sigmagirl is offline
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Everything I wear is, by definition, gay apparel . . . but not much of it is bright.
Guess I know what I'm getting you for Christmas.
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:52 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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What's really weird is that the younger set use "that's so gay" to mean "lame." The first time I heard such a use, I told the speaker never to use that word in that context in my hearing again.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:16 AM
perfectparanoia perfectparanoia is offline
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What's really weird is that the younger set use "that's so gay" to mean "lame." The first time I heard such a use, I told the speaker never to use that word in that context in my hearing again.
The first time my daughter did it she got the 'it's okay to be gay' talk. It took about 20 minutes. I am pretty sure she has never said it again mostly so she won't have to endure the talk again.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:44 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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I too agree with the teacher. On one hand you can say it still draws attention to the line, but on the other kids are very literal and there's no way they're gonna sing the word gay without snickering. And no, doing that is not a fucking hate crime.

Plus, according to the Master, gay kinda always meant, well, gay.
Not exactly: it used to have a double-meaning as "licentious" but not specifically homosexually licentious (for example, calling someone a "gay blade" meant they were into sexual promescuity but not with other men, or use of the term refering to female prostitutes).

The progression seems to have been by way of the anti-homosexual stereotype that assumed homosexual men were, of necessity, licentious.
  #41  
Old 12-08-2011, 09:55 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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What's really weird is that the younger set use "that's so gay" to mean "lame." The first time I heard such a use, I told the speaker never to use that word in that context in my hearing again.
I'll bet there were elders that were unhappy when the word came in general use to mean "homosexual" too. I wonder if any of them sat their kids down and gave that lecture.

What it seems is that the word is still evolving. In the past it had a double meaning: happy, and licentious. Now it has a single meaning: homosexual (if you use it to mean "happy" you sound absurdly archaic). In the future it may have a double meaning again: homosexual, and "lame".

The offensiveness of course comes from the association of the two meanings - that "homosexual = lame". But that does not necessarily follow. Lots of words have a double meaning which is not associated, or at least not directly. For example, think of the former meaning of "gay": most people using it when it had two meanings were not attempting to convey the notion that being homosexual made you happy, right?

The proof will be in the usage. Oddly, "gay = lame" is catching on with kids for whom, in some cases, anti-gay feelings are far more alien than they were to my generation. When I was growing up, the cops in our city beat up gays and many thought that was a good idea. Now, cops in our city march in the annual Gay parade.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:58 AM
Greg Charles Greg Charles is offline
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I thought it was, "Don't we know our gayic barrel?" Gay apparel, really?
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:05 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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I'll bet there were elders that were unhappy when the word came in general use to mean "homosexual" too. I wonder if any of them sat their kids down and gave that lecture.

What it seems is that the word is still evolving. In the past it had a double meaning: happy, and licentious. Now it has a single meaning: homosexual (if you use it to mean "happy" you sound absurdly archaic). In the future it may have a double meaning again: homosexual, and "lame".

The offensiveness of course comes from the association of the two meanings - that "homosexual = lame". But that does not necessarily follow. Lots of words have a double meaning which is not associated, or at least not directly. For example, think of the former meaning of "gay": most people using it when it had two meanings were not attempting to convey the notion that being homosexual made you happy, right?

The proof will be in the usage. Oddly, "gay = lame" is catching on with kids for whom, in some cases, anti-gay feelings are far more alien than they were to my generation. When I was growing up, the cops in our city beat up gays and many thought that was a good idea. Now, cops in our city march in the annual Gay parade.
Thing is, would you make the same defence if the phrase were 'that's so Irish' or 'that's so African' or even 'that's so Malthus' to mean pathetically bad?

When words have more than one meaning, and one is a commonly-used pejorative, the non-pejorative meaning tends to fall out of use. Cf. sinister, bastard, bitch (people these days often say female dog instead), queer, faggot, awful.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:07 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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I thought it was, "Don't we know our gayic barrel?" Gay apparel, really?
This is relevant.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:29 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Thing is, would you make the same defence if the phrase were 'that's so Irish' or 'that's so African' or even 'that's so Malthus' to mean pathetically bad?
All of those words started life as names, not euphemisms. That's a difference.

Certainly I can well understand why people would be unhappy to see the word gay used to mean lame. I'm saying it may end up a generational thing, with the kids not considering or caring that homophobia is the source.

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When words have more than one meaning, and one is a commonly-used pejorative, the non-pejorative meaning tends to fall out of use. Cf. sinister, bastard, bitch (people these days often say female dog instead), queer, faggot, awful.
Certainly. What may be happening here is that "gay", in a world where anti-homosexual prejudice was simply assumed as the norm, used to *be* a perjorative. While that may still be true in some places, quite obviously (and thankfully) the trend is the other way - to viewing homosexuality as perfectly normal and acceptable. To many kids I know, it simply never crosses their minds that gay is somehow wrong, because that isn't the world they grew up in.

So the meaning of "gay' as "lame" may well crowd out the meaning of "gay" as "homosexual", simply because the latter has lost any perjorative meaning.

What I'm saying is that protesting a change in the meaning of a word can be like Canute attempting to hold back the waves; doubly so it the targets of the lectures *know* they do not mean by it what you fear. We grew up in a world where it took a concious effort not to spout homophobic prejudice. Our kids, hopefully, will not require that.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:33 AM
stpauler stpauler is offline
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I'll go for the presumably unpopular 3rd option. Don't teach Christmas (religious) music in schools. Besides, sitting through those concerts really sucks ass.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:58 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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All of those words started life as names, not euphemisms. That's a difference.

Certainly I can well understand why people would be unhappy to see the word gay used to mean lame. I'm saying it may end up a generational thing, with the kids not considering or caring that homophobia is the source.



Certainly. What may be happening here is that "gay", in a world where anti-homosexual prejudice was simply assumed as the norm, used to *be* a perjorative. While that may still be true in some places, quite obviously (and thankfully) the trend is the other way - to viewing homosexuality as perfectly normal and acceptable. To many kids I know, it simply never crosses their minds that gay is somehow wrong, because that isn't the world they grew up in.

So the meaning of "gay' as "lame" may well crowd out the meaning of "gay" as "homosexual", simply because the latter has lost any perjorative meaning.

What I'm saying is that protesting a change in the meaning of a word can be like Canute attempting to hold back the waves; doubly so it the targets of the lectures *know* they do not mean by it what you fear. We grew up in a world where it took a concious effort not to spout homophobic prejudice. Our kids, hopefully, will not require that.
Yup, exactly - gay (the sexuality) used to be used as a pejorative, which is why gay meaning bright and cheerful died out.

Using gay to mean lame is not only caused by homophobia, it causes homophobia. If you ear every day that a sexuality is lame, it can't help but affect your perception of that sexuality. It would be completely impossible.

African (etc) being proper nouns doesn't make any difference to the way being African were perceived if that word were frequently used to mean lame. If people used the word Malthus to mean lame then people who don't know you would have to assume you're lame, even though you're not.

The targets of my lectures probably don't actually know all this. Though they're not lectures - just saying that I don't want to hear the word used in front of me that way again and explaining why if asked.

Of course, except when I'm teaching and probably at work, people are free to continue using the word that way if they want to - and I'm free to think they're a homophobic arsehole and avoid all contact with them.

Slang words do go in and out of popularity - there is absolutely nothing inevitable about the word gay inevitably meaning lame in the future.
  #48  
Old 12-08-2011, 12:05 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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When I was in elementary school we learned Little Drummer Boy with the line "the ox and lamb kept time". Many of the students-- including me-- corrected the teacher. She let us sing the word 'ass'.
"The ox and lamb kicked ass"?
  #49  
Old 12-08-2011, 12:28 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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I'll go for the presumably unpopular 3rd option. Don't teach Christmas (religious) music in schools. Besides, sitting through those concerts really sucks ass.
"Deck the Halls" doesn't mention Christmas though, it's really a Yule song. The only one I can think of as a matter of fact. It's about as Christmas-y as "Jingle Bells" or "Winter Wonderland."
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Old 12-08-2011, 12:34 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Using gay to mean lame is not only caused by homophobia, it causes homophobia. If you ear every day that a sexuality is lame, it can't help but affect your perception of that sexuality. It would be completely impossible.
I'm not so certain the latter is true. People are capable of using words to mean two different things, and not of necessity bleeding them together.

An example: allegedly, some people have taken up the habit of calling Black people "Canadians" as a racist euphemism:

http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.c...canadians.html

It does not necessarily follow, if this usage became general, that those people will start to actually dislike Canadians from Canada. When they call Black people "Canadians" it is presumably to disguise the fact (thinly) that they are hating on Black people - they know damn well they are *not* actually hating on people who are Canadian citizens.

Also - if the theory that a perjorative meaning drives out a non-perjorative meaning is true, as I think it is in part - at some point in the future, assuming the "gay = lame" usage catches on, people will simply stop referring to homosexuals as "gay". Already, the term "queer" seems to be losing is perjorative taint and comming into more general use - as in "the queer culture festival". Thirty years ago, you'd never have seen something like that. What you may get is "queer" meaning (neutral, non-perjorative) "homosexual" and "gay" meaning "lame".

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African (etc) being proper nouns doesn't make any difference to the way being African were perceived if that word were frequently used to mean lame. If people used the word Malthus to mean lame then people who don't know you would have to assume you're lame, even though you're not.

The targets of my lectures probably don't actually know all this. Though they're not lectures - just saying that I don't want to hear the word used in front of me that way again and explaining why if asked.

Of course, except when I'm teaching and probably at work, people are free to continue using the word that way if they want to - and I'm free to think they're a homophobic arsehole and avoid all contact with them.
Certainly. But what if you find that the younger generation starts to use the term in this manner as a group, and in fact are not homophobes? It will label you as somewhat curmudgeonly. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

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Slang words do go in and out of popularity - there is absolutely nothing inevitable about the word gay inevitably meaning lame in the future.
Not inevitable, but I think damn hard to deliberately prevent if it is happening. When has earnest moral lecturing by elders ever actually prevented the adoption of slang terminology by kids? Usually has somewhat the opposite effect.
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