LINGUIST List 3.816

Sat 24 Oct 1992

FYI: Mystery Citation, Diachronic Chinese, Gay

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  1. , responses to query about mystery citation
  2. "Sam Wang, 3.786 Summary: diachronic Chinese phonology
  3. Geoffrey Nunberg, caballeros y caballeras

Message 1: responses to query about mystery citation

Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1992 09:58 CSTresponses to query about mystery citation
From: <SABINODUCVAX.AUBURN.EDU>
Subject: responses to query about mystery citation

The consensus was that the the title, Jentrade Improibide, Tal Scu^r De Une
Cjamare is probably Friulian meaning "The Dark Room," a one-act play or
short story by Tennessee Williams. He doesn't suspect the playwright will
have much use for the Friulian royalties-- he being my colleague, of course.
Many thanks,
Robin Sabino
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Message 2: 3.786 Summary: diachronic Chinese phonology

Date: Tue, 20 Oct 92 11:42:52 MD3.786 Summary: diachronic Chinese phonology
From: "Sam Wang <SWANGvm.ucs.UAlberta.CA>
Subject: 3.786 Summary: diachronic Chinese phonology

 From: Sam Wang (Wang Hsu), University of Alberta
The bibliography supplied for diachronic Chinese phonology is very useful.
But an important item is missing:
Baxter, William 1992. A Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology. Walter de Gruyter.

 Regards,
 Sam Wang (Wang Hsu)
 swangualtavm.bitnet
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Message 3: caballeros y caballeras

Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1992 22:39:11caballeros y caballeras
From: Geoffrey Nunberg <nunbergparc.xerox.com>
Subject: caballeros y caballeras


Re: A Technical Question ("gay")

You might be interested to see the usage note we attached to the
entry for gay in the recently released Third Edition of the American
Heritage Dictionary, for which I was the usage editor:

"The word gay is now standard in its use to refer to the American
homosexual community and its members; in this use it is generally
lowercased. Gay is distinguished from homosexual in emphasizing the
cultural and social aspects of homosexuality (see note at gender). Many
writers reserve gay for male homosexuals, but the word is also used to
refer to homosexuals of both sexes; when the intended meaning is not clear
in the context, the phrase gay and lesbian should be used. Like some other
names of social groups that are derived from adjectives (e.g., Black), gay
may be regarded as offensive when used as a noun to refer to particular
individuals, as in There were two gays on the panel; here a phrase such as
gay people should be used instead. But there is no objection to the use of
the noun in the plural to refer to the general gay community, as in Gays
have united in opposition to the policy."

I have no explanation for this curious restriction on the use of nouns like
"Black" and "gay" in NP's denoting particular persons, as opposed to kinds.
The fact that they are derived from adjectives presumably plays a role;
sentences like "There are two African Americans (Jews, etc.) on the panel"
are unexceptionable. But "Asian" etc. can also be used in this context. So
is zero-derivation the crucial property, and if so, why?

By the by, a Nexis search revealed that "straight" is now quite widely used by
the mainstream press as the antonym of "gay" (though a few newspapers
continue to style it in shudder quotes). This is only the second instance I
can think of where a majority has adopted a name for itself that originates
within a minority or socially disempowered group. The other is "gentile."

Geoff Nunberg
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