Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Language of Sex

The American Dialect Society routinely names a “Word of the Year,” a new entry into the American English language that is emblematic of the tone, the atmosphere, or the “buzz” for that year. The Word of the Year, for example in 2007, was “Subprime.” Doesn’t that sum it up nicely? Just the sound of it makes me want to rouse a mob with torches and pitchforks and head over to my nearest banker’s house.

In 2000, the ADS also chose a word of the millennium. It was the word “she,” which prior to the year 1000 did not exist. The Old English word for the fairer sex in 999 AD was “heo.” It changed, according to scholars, because it sounded to much like “he,” and a gender who won’t even wear the same color dress that another woman has on to the same event, just couldn’t have that. Oh, no sir-eeeee.

(“Sir” came from “sire, by the way, which means “senior” because men, allegedly came first to the earth, but that’s a man thing and really doesn’t matter, so to all my women friends, just forget I mentioned it).

Yep, like a superhero, they just added an “S” to their chests, and what a nice “S” it was. And rather than faking the big “O,” they just dropped it all together.

Linguists say all language is metaphorical. If this example isn’t a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is.


  1. So, if we drop the O, that means...SuperHer!

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  3. I'll take her laughter and her tears
    And make them all my souvenirs
    For where [heo] goes I've got to be
    The meaning of my life is

    [Heo], oh [Heo]

    Copyright 999 AD Elvis Costello

  4. Catchy title for this blog!

    Hmm, if they'd only gotten straight to the point and injected an 'r' in 1000, we'd get a whole new world of Hero!


  5. Regan,

    You're on to something. "Hero it is!"