Date: Thu, 29 Feb 1996 10:11:21 -0500


Subject: Re: GAY (Changes to the English Language)

Dave Maurer wrote about "gaycats" in the early forties in relation to the

young boys who hung out with "junkers" and with "boxmen." Nels Anderson

mentioned gaycats (I think) in his work on the hobo in the teens and

early 20's. On data I used in my dissertation dating back to the first

part of the 20th century I ran across the use of gaycat as the catamites

kept by hobos and boxmen. Partridge mentions it in one of his

dictionaries. The term is certainly not new. Referring to homonsexuals

it has been used throughout the 20th century at least and probably even

earlier. One problem with lexicography is that lexicographers often

forget that a term is probably used for a long time before some

journalist or egghead decides to write it down. Well, we frequently date

things (granted, because there is no other way to do it) from the time

they first appear in print. I have always thought this is screwy, but

then I was a student of Dave Maurer's and he was a life long believer in

the "living language" and thought that it was more fun, interesting, and

important to study....

Al Futrell

-- awfutr01[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]


Dept of Communication -- University of Louisville