Tag Archives: language

Parental Skill Sets: Action Interpretation

Our 17-month-old has been babbling since before his first birthday, with the initial declaration of “Hi!” one day when I went to greet him in the morning, the both of us freshly awake. He’d been standing in the corner of his crib, and he gave me a wave as he said it, which made me think that I know plenty of 30-somethings who never achieve the synchronicity of those two actions, and here he’s doing it at ten months.

Emile touching a playground bouncy horse

Since then his verbiage has unleashed on us like a wide pipe, flowing out during nearly ever waking moment. Often the words are garbled or an approximation of the words adults use — his tongue and mouth have some more forming to do, so things like Ss, the “th” sound in English, and words that end in “age” or “ege” are his biggest challenges. One of Emile’s favorite objects is a black spatula, which he pronounces as “zhezhi,” and the only reason I know zhezhi means “spatula” is because he’ll hold up the object and say the word, and point. Yes, I’ve tried repeating the word “spatula” to him, but he has yet to get that enunciation under his belt. Read More…

The Violence of the T-Word

ru paul photoI was in graduate school in snowy Syracuse, New York when the word “queer” came onto the scene as a self-identifier for LGBT people. One colleague whispered her horror to me, saying that “queer” always was and always would be a terrible word. Yet the wave swept over a large segment of the LGBT community and the collective decision, at least in my generation, was to “reclaim” the word for ourselves. We were out, loud, and proud, and we had just discovered that we could co-opt Roy G. Biv for our political purposes and move past the pink and black triangles of our elders. Queer Nation was here.

Fast forward into the age of the information superhighway, and conversations roiled online about the use of “tranny” among LGBT people. We’ve arrived in a different place with this epithet, and it doesn’t include any kind of reclamation. Whereas people in the LGBT umbrella felt that they themselves could use “queer” as an in-community term, that has not been the conversation with the t-word. Even Kate Bornstein, the author of Gender Outlaw, was told in no uncertain terms that her trans sisters were hurt whenever they heard her use it, and they wanted her to erase it from her vocabulary. She went public with her feelings of conflict.

If trans women are walking away from using “tranny” en masse, then the rest of us should, too. Read More…

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