Main | Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Gay" #1 Insult For British Kids

According to a new study, "gay" is most-used insult among students in UK.
Every generation of schoolchildren has them, the playground put-downs that can leave a pupil's reputation in tatters among their peers. For the current generation, "gay", "bitch" and "slag" are the most frequently used terms of abuse, according to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

They are used by children of all ages, from nursery school upwards. But the worst offenders are secondary school pupils, says the teaching union. The most popular by far is "gay". Of the teachers interviewed, 83% said they heard it being used regularly and much more than its nearest rivals, bitch (59%) and slag (45%).

So how did it achieve this dubious honour? The word has had many meanings over the centuries, often sexual, says Clive Upton, professor of Modern English Language at Leeds University. "In the early 19th Century is was used to refer to women who lived off immoral earnings," he says. Around the 1970s it was claimed by the homosexual community as a descriptive term for their sexual orientation, now its most popular meaning.

But while the word may not be new, language experts say "gay" has only become a documented trend in young people's slang in the last few years. Previously it might have been an occasional insult. "Every generation grows up with a whole lexicon of homosexual insults, in my day it was 'poofter' or 'bender'," says slang lexicographer Tony Thorne. "They were used much more because they were considered more offensive than 'gay', which is more neutral."
Here's the "hit list": gay (83%), bitch (59%), slag (45%), poof (29%), batty boy (29%), slut (26%), queer (26%), lezzie (24.8%), homo (22%), faggot (11%), sissy (5%). Eight out of eleven words are a reference to homosexuality. In the U.S., we'd have to add "punk" to the list.

(Via - Towleroad)

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