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6 July 2014

I’ve heard some friends being rude about automatic spell/grammar/punctuation checkers in the past. But the one that slew me was hearing about a rightwing Christian group in the States that programmed their computer to replace the word ‘gay’ where ever it appeared, with the word ‘ homosexual.’ The problem is that the word gay, particularly in old material, does NOT mean homosexual, nor does it always mean certain things in name contexts. For example there is a well-known American Olympic runner whose name happens to be Tyson Gay.  I don’t imagine he was happy with the website’s transposition. There is the Emily Kimborough book, written as I recall around the 1930s, about the overseas trip of her and her friend to Europe – Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. Our Hearts Were Young and Homosexual lends a whole other meaning that I doubt the author – if she’s still around – would appreciate either. Then there is my favourite quote for the re-purposing of the word gay anyway. In the western song, The Streets of Laredo, there occurs the lines, t’was once in the saddle we used to go dashing, t’was once in the saddle we used to go gay. Transpose that and the mind boggles. I hear that the group in question found the transposition more trouble than it was worth and negated it. And I’d say that was as well. before assorted people named Gaylord, Gayson, or town like Gay in Georgia, start lawsuits. In fact considering all the possible pitfalls of that, I think I can live with the occasional oddities of my spellchecker.


  1. Really? In all instances? Even the word gay in a word? I wouldn’t have thought so. Then you’d have problems with gayety, gaywings, and margay. Personally I am a little upset that ‘gay’ in it’s original form has been superseded by the modern use. Homosexuality is all anyone thinks now when it is found in literature. Happiness has been lost in it all.

    Comment by Glenn Hibburt — 24 March 2016 @ 17:27

  2. Oh and nosegay. Forgot that one.

    Comment by Glenn Hibburt — 24 March 2016 @ 17:32

  3. and still worse, a common Navajo surname is ‘Begay.’

    Comment by lyn — 25 March 2016 @ 11:54

  4. and yes, I too regret that we lost the word as a synonym for happiness, for gayity. Many of the GLBT persuasion have gone back to simply saying ‘queer’. I never liked that much either, but as a heterosexual I get no say in either word, and fair enough.

    Comment by lyn — 25 March 2016 @ 11:57

  5. Yes that’s true ‘queer’ was also a great word on it own before it was changed. Puts a whole new spin on the chapter 7 in Hobbit doesn’t it?

    Comment by Glenn Hibburt — 28 March 2016 @ 21:21

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