21st of October, 2010
Words from a Different Point of View
“The Borrowing Language,” a term used to describe what is now known as the modern English language. Although primarily Germanic, English uses a vocabulary mainly developed from Anglo-Norman languages, dissimilar to other European dialects of its time. As times continues to advance English becomes more broad, encompassing and adopting words that come from greek, latin, french and many other roots, thus, making the English language vast and unconceivable in vocabulary. Although words are adopted for what they mean, as time passes, their connotations and even denotations can change, allowing every word to have more than one meaning and a non-specific usage or pronunciation. The process through which these words change reflect upon the social platform in society at certain time periods, along with trends of the time. One of the greatest examples of a popular vocabulary word would be the word “Gay.” The word Gay was introduced and adopted by the English language around the twelfth century from a French word written as “gai.” Used ubiquitously by today’s society, the word carries a very negative connotation; however, it’s not until it reached the English language that it was giving such negative background. A word that was originally Germanic created to define happiness or flashiness, turned into an adjective used to describe those who are known to be homosexuals in a very derogatory manner, and even as a method of calling something stupid. Therefore, the word became very versatile when it came to its usage, since it can used as an adjective, adverb or a noun. When the word gay was first introduced it was used as an adjective. Gay meant lively-looking, brilliant, and showy. In a sense it defined all that was superfluous in color or anything that would stand out. We take note of the original meaning in pg. 285 of the book Painting of Ancients, written by F. Junius “Too much cheerefulnesse of gay and flourishing colours.” A quote through which one realizes a more poetic point of view of the vocabulary word in which, the world or the current scenery is being described as a lively, good, colorful time. This was a very dignified connotation of the word, one that was kept for many more years. In 1717 Lady M. W. Montagu said, “The perpetual Spring.makes everything look gay and flourishing.” Another quote in which we attain a positive connotation from which we gain an upbringing sensation. . As the eighteenth century loomed, this scandalous word began to derive a new and very much unique connotation. The word gay which meant happy, bright, and showy had now developed a more negative characterization. It had now to do with the social pleasures of life, although originally it referred to an individual’s frivolous and promiscuous pleasures. In full agreement is the writer N. Rowe in who’s Fair Penitent, of 1703 talks about a male seducer, by the name of Gay Lothario. “Is this that Haughty, Gallant, Gay Lothario?” A quote that allows us to see how Lothario was looked at in the play most obviously because of his hedonistic ways. This definition is also proven by J. Hutchinson Archives Surg, when he says, “My patient was a married man who admitted having been very gay in early life.” Describing that his patient was a pleasure seeker through word gay, that is at his age before he got married. Close to ending the nineteenth century, the time frame known as the “Gay nineties” or “Naughty Nineties” came about. It was around the time period of 1890s through the early 1900s. This time period was one of great optimism and happiness. It was legitimately a time period that encompassed all the definitions of the word gay. So up until then this word had no derogatory meanings or conjectures. In fact to many it was a jovial time of blissful careless tendencies.