Language

Recent posts

Why “Daggy” Should Be the New “Sexy”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this gem-of-a-slang-word, “daggy” (adj.) is an Australian term used semi-affectionately to describe things that are unpopular, un-chic, or uncool. It’s a bit like “nerdy” but without the intellectual association. The noun form, “dag,” can be used to classify people as in “Kate, you like watching NCIS marathons with your parents? You’re such a dag.” It’s not insulting exactly – more like the kind of sarcastic teasing Aussies do when they like you. Literally, a “dag” is the clump of wool around a sheep’s bottom that is matted with poop. Continue Reading →

Queer Alphabet Soup: Moving Beyond Sexual Inclusivity

LGTBQIA…and the list goes on. What we once simply called gay expanded to gay and lesbian, then to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, and then further to include the umbrella term queer, as well as intersex and asexual. A recent New York Times article by Michael Schulman tackles this expansion of inclusive terms, discussing the new generation of queers and the gender inclusivity that they are striving for. “If the gay-rights movement today seems to revolve around same-sex marriage, this generation is seeking something more radical: an upending of gender roles beyond the binary of male/female. The core question isn’t whom they love, but who they are — that is, identity as distinct from sexual orientation. Continue Reading →

“Sapiosexual” – My New Favorite Neologism

You know that feeling when you find a new word that describes an identity or characteristic and you just think, “OMG! That’s totally me!” and you get really excited? It’s that feeling of shared reality and lack of aloneness that comes from realizing you aren’t a freak (or are at least, you’re one of many freaks). I can remember feeling this way the first time I heard the term “sex geek” but more recently I felt this way when I learned the word “sapiosexual.” Continue Reading →

More Erotic And Obscene Words

As a follow-up to my post explaining folk speech and sexual slang, I thought I would provide some examples of so-called “dirty” words in the English language: George Carlin’s Incomplete List of Impolite Words (link goes to Youtube video). This is, obviously, SO not safe for work due to the various taboo words being pronounced aloud with relish. Though I’m a folklorist and sex scholar, many words in the video were new to me. The endless creativity that goes into describing and naming sexual acts is quite astounding! Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Continue Reading →

Limits of the English Language – Revisited

Our most recent theme week, Sex and Language, has prompted me to revisit a topic that I blogged about a while back: the use of language when describing a significant other. At the time, I was struggling with what I should call my Sig O. Since my partner (yes, I’ve settled on that word) is transgender, I was bouncing between boyfriend and partner. “Boyfriend,” on the one hand, led everyone to assume heterosexuality, while “partner” made me sound like an old lesbian (no offense whatsoever to that crowd, I’m just not quite there yet). This of course brings up the question of whether or not I actually care what people think of me. When I use boyfriend and people assume I’m straight, should that bother me? Continue Reading →

You Say Hymen, We Say Vaginal Corona

In keeping with the Sex and Language theme week, we thought it would be interesting to mention this fact: the “hymen,” thought of as a brittle membrane that is broken when a woman loses her virginity, does not exist. As Scarleteen informs us, the proper term is “vaginal corona” and these thin folds of mucous tissue are formed differently in each individual woman and are not a good indicator of sexual experience, tampon use, or anything else. Since the word “hymen” has such negative connotations of purity and being a virgin from the limited perspective of male-female vaginal penetrative intercourse, why not start saying “vaginal corona” instead? We dare you. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Continue Reading →

Polari: Gay Slang of the 60s

Though it sounds like a term straight out of Twilight, Polari is actually a 50 yea- old queer slang language. Used among gay men in the UK, Polari (often seen as Palare, as the word comes from the Italian “parlare,” or “to speak”) was born out of necessity; gay men in the 1960s needed a certain level of privacy, and thus a secret slang language was born. According to the few sources I was able to find, Polari is a mix of several different languages and slang dialects, including English, Italian, Yiddish, circus-slang, and Gypsy languages. Polari was made up of a small lexicon of only about 20 words, but was ever-changing and often included up to 500 words. This website has a lot of Polari words and their modern translations, but I’ve picked out a few of my favorites to share with you here:

plate                   feet; to fellate

onk                     nose

oglefakes           glasses   (definitely going to use this one)

meshigener       nutty, crazy, mental (ah, there’s the Yiddish I recognize!)

cottaging           having or looking for sex in a cottage

cottage              public loo (particularly with reference to cottaging)

basket               the bulge of male genitals through clothes

chicken            young boy

So, MSP readers, if you catch me throwing in a few Polari words into my posts here and there, you’ll know where they come from! Continue Reading →

Jealousy And Language

Jealousy is a problem that irks many a relationship. It’s possible to be jealous of many different kinds of people or things, to be jealous of people who have what you want, or are with who you want to be with. You can be envious or someone for being the kind of person you’re not. In many instances, though, jealousy in the context of relationships means feeling annoyed or frustrated or hurt or angry when your partner (or love interest or crush object) pays attention to someone else instead of you, whether that means going so far as cheating or simply flirting. Since I have the good fortune to be a relatively un-jealous person, friends often come to me for advice about how to handle jealousy issues. Continue Reading →

What to Call Your Kids’ Naughty Bits

As someone who has been babysitting for over 10 years, I’ve probably heard fifty different words that parents use to describe their kids’ naughty bits. Really, I’ve heard it all, from pee-pee to bajingo, vee vee to private parts. As children of a self-proclaimed feminist, my brother and I grew up using only the anatomical terms for our genitalia, so it’s always interesting for me to see the other terms that children use. All of these pet-names I keep hearing have gotten me thinking about the pros and cons of using scientific terminology to describe childrens’ genitalia. I recently came across a blog post in which a mom discusses her reasoning for using pet-names. Continue Reading →

Folk Speech And Sexual Slang

In my field, Folklore, we study not only fairy tales and community celebrations but also language itself. Like linguists, we’re interested in dialect and the regional and cultural variations between language uses and meanings. The term we use for this area is “folk speech.” A guide to teaching verbal folklore defines folk speech as including:

Regional accents, like “Hyde Pork”/”Hyde Park” or “warsh”/”wash”; local terms, specialized language, and other elements that make up the distinctive speech patterns of a region, folk group, or occupation. Children have elaborate specialized language, which includes personalized names for games, such as “butt ball” for dodgeball; distinctive phraseology, such as “let’s bust some moves” for “let’s dance”; and distinctive languages, such as piglatin. Continue Reading →