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Our changing language: is "special" the new "gay?"

Dan

Dear Leader
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In some circles, the word special is used to describe the mentally disabled -- or, for those of generations past, the retarded. I've heard kids tease each other by calling others "special," or describing something as "special" in the same context that they would sarchasticaly use "retarded". Not too long ago (and damnit, I wish I had my camera with me!), I saw a short yellow school bus labeled with the text "A SPECIAL BUS FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN".

I think special is going to be the "gay" of the 2000s; a word with a meaning that will change radically as time goes on, with the old meaning either forgotten or thought of as a quaint anachronism.

Are there any other words that you see as chaving meanings that would change significantly in the next 50 to 100 years?
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
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I think it's a shame. The crime in my eyes, though, is the ill intent behind the words. Words are simply words, but it's their usage and intent that causes all the grief. I have long suspected that Biblical prohibitions against profanity had this thought at their heart. The sin isn't uttering the word per se, but rather the intent behind it. In other words, don't wish your fellow man ill.
 
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Maister said:
I think it's a shame. The crime in my eyes, though, is the ill intent behind the words. Words are simply words, but it's their usage and intent that causes all the grief. I have long suspected that Biblical prohibitions against profanity had this thought at their heart. The sin isn't uttering the word per se, but rather the intent behind it. In other words, don't wish your fellow man ill.
I once read about a study that concluded that people who are bigoted -- say against gays -- will use slurs like "fag". Then, if they decide those attitudes are wrong, they will clean up their language and not use such words. But, folks who are truly accepting of such lifestyle differences will use words like "fag" but in an affectionate way, not a hostile way (if that makes sense). It reminds me of the fact that our words themselves are only a small part of the meaning. When we speak, context, voice tone, and body language convey a great deal more of the meaning than the actual words -- which is part of why internet communication is so prone to misunderstandings.

Because my oldest had to be forced to learn to speak and had an elaborate alternative means of communicating as a toddler (that included made-up words of his own, miming, and still using two-word phrases well after he was supposed to be speaking in sentences!), I have come to understand "meaning" as very much an internal thing and words as a crude conduit of meaning. In my experience, it takes substantial contact with someone in order to get to know them well enough for effective communication of any depth to begin to occur. I know that when I post comments in forums that I do not post in regularly, I have a lot more trouble with being misunderstood, offending people, etc.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
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Special... I haven't looked at the root word, or its origin, but three other words do come to mind...

Specific

Species

Specimen

I don't know what my point is. If these three words are related to Special, then Special has indeed lost its specialness. If everyone is special, then each and every specifc specimen of our species is pretty much alike and therfore not special.

I love being ordinary.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
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Saturday Night Blue Light Fabulous Specimen Special Sauce is against the ways of Gawd! You're all going to Hell!
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
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I guess if there's a movement to get a constitutional amendment that would outlaw gay marriage, it should also outlaw special education.
 

H

Cyburbian
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pete-rock said:
I guess if there's a movement to get a constitutional amendment that would outlaw gay marriage, it should also outlaw special education.
ding ding ding...we have a winner....too funny, too funny.

but, wait....wasnt "special" the "gay" of the 80's on SNL???????????
 

jsk1983

Cyburbian
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2,479
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24
Back when I was in middle school there was a class of students who were "special", they were bussed in from surrouding districts and the class was operated under the county Board of Cooperative Educational Services, more popularly known as BOCES. Anyways this class was known as the BOCES class and thus the term "BOCES" was used as a slang term that could be subsitituted for "retarted" or "special".
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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What is special ?

Definitions of special from the Web:

>overused as a word expressing vague praise.
If she is such "a special person," what are the rest of us? Generic?

>is in a group of things (or people) that are the same as each other in some way and different from all others in that way.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
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25
Newsflash

This just in. "Special" to replace "Gay" (ex. "Hey Gordo, did you check out that hunk over by the fire hydrant? He's so special!") and "Gay" to replace "Stupid" (ex. "Dammit Bobby, that is the gayest thing you have ever done. If you weren't so gay and actually used your brain for once, then maybe you wouldn't have pulled your finger out of the dike until reinforcements arrived! Now the whole town is flooded thanks to your gaypidity".)

Inspired by this
 
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