Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 13:11:48 EDT


Subject: Re: Golden Oldies

Speaking of expressions like "shot his wad," which were clearly

sexual at one time but have become neutral, I was just getting used

to hearing kids saying that something "sucks" when I got hit with the

MCI commercial where a kid is calling another a "dork" -- which was a

synonym for "penis" when I was a kid in the '50s.

David Johns

Another one of these is the VP "down to the short strokes", which as I under-

stand (and it's hard to think of an alternative source) is a metaphor for

the last stages of intercourse. A quick check of Nexis indicates 137 occur-

rences from various newspapers, of which the first few involved references to

the final stages of consummation of contract negotiations, legislation pacts

(in particular the recent agreement between the states and tobacco companies),

sales and other financial transactions, agreements over where to host the Super

Bowl, and so on. No awareness of the source is ever acknowledged--totally

dead metaphor? Fairly parallel to 'shoot one's wad', except that there's no

"innocent" original in this case parallel to the ordnance source in that one.


P.S. I agree with Mark's take on 'lay' and 'get laid': while Robert Baker's

classic 1971 paper "Pricks and Chicks: A Plea for Persons" (in Vetterling-

Braggin's anthology _Sexist Language_) lists 'lay' along with 'fuck', 'screw',

'do it to' [as opposed, of course, to the symmetric 'do it with'],

'have', 'bang', etc., with the asymmetric sex verbs (where the subject is

+male or, as Ron would remind me, +penetrator and the object = +female or

+penetratee), it changed some time ago for many speakers and is now role-

neutral syntactically, at least with respect to 'get laid' and largely with

respect to transitive 'lay'. I think Kim or Chris can also be 'good/nice/lousy

lays' with no entailments as to their sex or gender. One of Baker's symmetric

sex verbs previously unmentioned in this thread is the rather dated 'ball'.

For me, "Kim balled Chris" doesn't imply anything about who did what to whom

(other than that they went all they way in doing it). The more natural syntax

was "Kim and Chris balled". In either case, there may be a lingering implica-

tion that the participants were [+stoned], but that's clearly pragmatic.