Afternoon Inqueery

AI: New Words

Alan Turing Year is now over, but his name still crops up time and time again – and it might be set to become even more common. Inspired by an anecdote told by Christos Papadimitriou, Alan Knuth recently suggested that the verb “to ture” should mean “to use the internet”, as “the English language currently has no verb with this meaning, and such a verb becomes more necessary as each day passes”. I think this is a pretty cool idea, and I’ve dutifully added the word to my vocabulary, but it also got me thinking about how LGBTQ* people reclaim, redefine and create words to describe their experiences.
This is such a massive topic, but the idea of meanings that require words is one particularly interesting facet, particularly with identities that are only just being established as “real”. A label that fits well with an aspect of yourself is one way to feel more comfortable with that aspect, though of course you can’t get an exact fit without having a different word for every single person. Nevertheless, it can be quite fun to come up with words to describe that thing that you and lots of other people experience – or, as in the Turing story, to assign meaning to cool but unused words.
What words or phrases do you think the language you speak desperately needs, particularly with regards to LGBTQ* issues? Have you made up any to describe your experiences?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 3pm ET.
(Featured image by Jeffrey Cuvilier on Flickr.)

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Courtney is a theoretical physics student at Imperial College London, broadly identifying as cisfemale, panromantic, asexual and atheist. She lives with mental illness (worst room-mate ever) and hopes to help break down the stigma attached to admitting that. Her hobbies include campaigning, internetting and spectacularly failing to defy any stereotypes regarding British people and tea. She also identifies as an X-Phile/Browncoat/Whovian, which are clearly the most important things.

1 Comment

  1. January 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm —

    I’ll go for the obvious: A gender-neutral third person pronoun. Sure, people have come up with their preferred ones, but the only one in common enough use that most people won’t bat an eye is “they,” which causes those people who do bat eyes at it to have conniptions.

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