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Should the Washington Redskins Be Renamed the Washington Rednecks?

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The Washington Redskins' name controversy
Wikipedians have outdone themselves in outlining the multiple aspects and perspectives of the Washington Redskins' name controversy. Personally, I have always interpreted the expression "redskin" as a racist slur. However, despite complaints, protests and a number of court cases, "Redskins" has survived as the name of the Washington NFL team since 1933. Justification and defense of the name include the fact that some Native Americans support its use and even use it themselves as an object of pride. Additionally, the expression's origins are etymologically neutral and only took on negative connotations from the way the locution has been used.
How language evolvesAs I've pointed out elsewhere, in the evolution of language, usage trumps definitions and origins. How a word gets used eventually becomes its meaning. "Redskin," particularly as it has been dominantly used in American culture, is an i…

How to Make Love to a Logophile?

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What does it mean when John gives Mary flowers?For more than a dozen years, I taught an introductory literature course to 60 or so first-year undergraduates, 80% of whom were young women--a number of whom would typically report being interested in questions of love and romance.  Every year in the first class I described the following scenario and asked the class what word they would use to describe this young man’s actions.
John’s eyes always light up when Mary enters the room.  He always talks in a tender, flattering manner to her.  He takes her out to dinner, and buys her flowers and small gifts. Etc. Etc. What is the verb for when a man pursues a woman?As I presented this hypothetical heterosexual scenario, I could feel Judith Butler and the gender police breathing down my neck, but bear with me. So what do we call what John is doing?  Over the years I noticed a shifting in the tenor of the answers.  The typical mid-90s answer was that he “was cruising,” “on the make,” “hitting on he…