dare not speak its name

Discussion in 'English Only' started by whyflies, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. whyflies Senior Member

    Hi,can anyone tell me the meaning of the phrase as follows?
    "The idea that some groups of people may be more intellligent than others is one of those hypotheses that dare not speak its name.But Gregory Cochran is prepared to say it anyway."
    I'm confused with its meaning and usage.Thanks in advance.
  2. papakapp Senior Member

    English - NW US
    The idiom in question means "taboo". But don't use that particular sentence. I Can't make sense of it either.


    He is saying the hypothesis itself dare not speak. So yeah, the sentence is grammatically correct. The hypothesis should be ashamed of itself.
    There are a few factors fat would make this difficult to read:
    1) there is an idiom
    2) there is an anthropomorphism

    But it does work.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  3. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    The phrase was coined by Lord Alfred Douglas, speaking of his homosexuality, "I am the Love that dare not speak its name." In the late 19th century, this was a great social comment. Everyone knew there was homosexuality, but no one would talk about it, as it was shocking!

    Today, the final part is often used (ironically) together with something that the writer or speaker would want you to believe is a contentious or shocking.

    e.g. "It is the XXX that dare not speak its name." In the quotation you give, it is used properly.
  4. whyflies Senior Member

    Anyway,thank you for your help.
  5. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    English - England
    My interpretation is that lots of people talked about homosexuality, but nobody, not even homosexuals, dared to call it by the name "love".

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