Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994 13:48:25 EDT From: LORI B BALDRIDGE Subject: Re: offending idioms > > Though some males may preen at being called a "hunk" or "stud," > these objectifying terms can be as jarring as the older, informal term for > a girl: "filly." Male libbers may also look askance at the use of "booty" > as a posterior descriptive, especially when thinking of the denotative > "loot" or "treasure." Even "groovy" has its potential as a sex offender > when thinking of its origins as "in the groove," meaning exciting or > stimulating, seen most strongly in song lyrics such as "shake your groove > thing." But there seem to be two levels at which these terms work. On the > public level of usage, offense seems to occur more readily from idiomatic > animal comparisons like "chick." On the private level, there is, at times, > an enjoyment, amusement, and enthusiasm for the malleability of our > language. So on one plane, certain highland clans may take humbrage at > "scot free" (though it has no relation to the many derogatory references to > Scottish cheapness), while on another, the inner group enjoys a certain > mockery of itself. And terms change from negative to positive (as in > "yankee") or shift focus (as in "honky"). Am I making sense here? Perhaps > I need some Dutch courage or maybe I'm just horsing around (originally a > sexual idiom). > Some animal rights activists may be offended by your use of animal references. Last year I read a book (I can't remember the exact title, but it was something like "1001 Ways to Save the Animals"), in which a whole chapter was dedicated to erasing phrases such as "dog ugly" and "fat as a pig" from the English language.