Gay Speak Essay

1950 WordsNov 4, 20088 Pages
A dialect is a variety of language characteristics that grows within a community, region, or subculture. Many times a dialect springs up naturally through shared experiences and social conditions, but it can also be a method used to communicate specific ideas and thoughts in a way only certain people can understand. With dialect seemingly plain words have their definitions altered or completely changed. The “gay dialect” used by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community is one that is becoming heard more often in mainstream media and society due to the emerging gay civil rights movement. The increasing tolerance towards homosexuality in the western world has spawned a lot of interest in the meanings of various terms in the gay lexicon and due to this linguists along with social scientists are beginning to seriously study its roots. The gay dialect got can be historically traced to the working class gay community of England. The 1960’s saw a thriving underground gay community which had a great deal of impact on society (which was not nearly as tolerant as the one of today). One of the aspects of this new subculture was a dialect specifically created to describe things of importance to gay people, the dialect was called “Polari”. Polari is very interesting to linguists because of the amount of sheer diversity in its words. Although this slang began with a mere 20 words, its lexicon became larger as time passed by, with perhaps between 500-1,000 words and growing. Michael Quinon, the co-author of the Oxford Dictionary of New Words and Cambridge graduate, believes that the roots of Polari go back to the Italian entertainers who immigrated to England in the nineteenth century. Since then, Quinon argues, words from various other languages and subcultures have been strung together to form the gay dialect. Quinon

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