Tag » Linguistics
From the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, it was common practice for publishers to put out little dictionaries specifically edited and designed for preteen and young teenage girls. Their vinyl covers featured popular characters or aspirational figures (the cute scholar on the white one pictured here is named “Miss Sophista Kate”) and they were often a single item in a whole line of similarly designed accessories, from scrapbooks and photo albums to makeup ... Read More
When I think about words that might be polarizing in the feminist community, “lady” certainly doesn’t top the list. There have been huge campaigns to reclaim other historically salty terms for women, from “bitch” to “slut”—even the dreaded “c-word”. (Nope. Won’t write it out. Won’t do it.)  But figuring out what to do with the word “lady” is uniquely tricky. Unlike some of its ... Read More
Now that it's not copacetic to throw the V-word around in the realm of American government, I decided to go ahead and make a short list of places where it is okay to use the word "vagina." Feel free to use this as a guide so that you don't startle any unexpected listeners. We don't know what the free use of anatomical terms could lead to, but some possibilities are: maturity, correctness, tolerance and, of course, anarchy.  1) The street. It's totally cool ... Read More
Flappers knew how to get dolled up and keep it copacetic in the 20s, and today we love them just as much as they would have wanted us to. Besides partying and staying in style, these ladies created a whole new language so catchy that a lot of it stuck around until today. We all know that the Real McCoy is the cat’s pajamas, not to take any wooden nickels, and that no one likes a wet blanket. But do you know what “Butt me” or “Oh, ... Read More
Navigating gendered vocabulary can be tricky. I use the term “guys” to refer to just about anyone—men, women, children, even the elderly—but every now and then my poor vocabulary has led to confusion or even discomfort.  But terms for the “fairer sex” are pretty limited. “Females” sounds starchy and medical, and even “women” often feels too official. “Girls” indicates youth and can be ... Read More