Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by DanyD, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. DanyD

    DanyD Senior Member

    Italiano, Italy
    Hi all!
    I stumbled into this sentence:

    "he was a fag"

    Does it mean: "he was homosexual"?
    Thanks in advance!
  2. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Los Angeles, California
    Literally, yes. More commonly, however, it means that a person was an asshole:warn:. Both forms are very rude.

    Edit: Historically, at least from what I know, this has been an American word for homosexual. In time, the rampant use of it essentially turned the word into a synonym for asshole, jerk, etc. Either way, it's only something one would use amongst good friends or if you want to truly insult someone. Incidentally, there is much controversy over this term being used as a synonym for asshole because that tends to imply that homosexuals are generally assholes. In recent years there has been a movement of homosexuals "taking back" the word and using it to describe themselves, though I'm not gay and I only know some gay men, so I can't really attest to this. In Britain, the word "fag" has historically been a synonym for "cigarette." I believe it stems from another meaning for the word which is something like "bundle of flammable sticks" or something of that sort.
  3. DanyD

    DanyD Senior Member

    Italiano, Italy
    Thank you very much!

    By the way, is it used to mean "asshole":warn: even by those who are not homophobic? That is, is it used in that way only by those who consider the word "homosexual" an insult?
  4. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Los Angeles, California
    The answer to this question is a little more difficult. As a 22 year-old male I can tell you that it is very, very, very used by guys my age, and even by many women. I grew up in a family that openly accepted my gay uncle and our closest family friends was a gay couple. I've never thought of gay people in a different way than any other people. However, I still use this terminology. It doesn't make sense, though, because gays aren't generally considered to be stereotypical assholes. For example, there were people I know who would say, "Stop being such a Jew" when someone was being cheap. I can understand how that insult came about because of the existence of a stereotype for a group of people. However, I think this one was just a random morphing. Mind, people I know (including myself) will say things like...

    Man, that game was sooo gay.

    The context being that I just played a hockey game and we were winning 7-1 in the third period. Then the other team scored 7 goals and won the game 8-7. It doesn't make sense for me to call the game gay, but the definition of gay in that context means "annoying, unfortunate, unfair, stupid, etc." I hope it makes some sense, and I re-emphasize that it is rather rude to use.
  5. venice Senior Member

    Is 'fag':warn: an abbreviation of 'faggot':warn:?. I'm quite sure! Bye, bye
  6. DanyD

    DanyD Senior Member

    Italiano, Italy
    Thanks so much Hockey!!
  7. Starbuck

    Starbuck Senior Member

    Ciao a tutti,

    Hockey13 brings up a very recently adopted use of the word "gay" to mean "something annoying, bad, frustrating." I teach undergraduates at a large urban unversity in Chicago, and I hear the word "gay" being used often to refer to things negatively:
    That film was sooo gay.
    What you just did was sooo gay.

    The use of this word in this context is something that started appearing only a relatively short time ago. It's rather offensive to gays since it implies, as Hockey13 stated, that homosexuals are "annoying, frustrating, irritating, bad."

    The word "fag":warn: is in AE generally acknowledged as a derogatory term for gay males. And while there are some gay men who choose to use this term among themselves as a means of self-reference, these individuals are the exceptions rather than the rule. The vast majority of gay men do not refer to themselves as "fags.":warn:

    The word "queer," which was traditionally another derogatory term for gays is now the word used in academia to denote the "theoretical study of homosexuality," as in "queer studies." And while most gay men outside of academia do not use the term "queer" to self-identify, many associated with gender studies and queer studies at the university level do, in fact, refer to themselves as "queer." So the word has a variety of uses and intentions depending on the context.

    Starbuck :)
  8. beauxyeux Senior Member

    italian italy
    Hi Starbuck, you aroused my curiosity....:)
    What do gay men use to self-identify? Just gay?
  9. gabrigabri

    gabrigabri Senior Member

    Italian, Italy (Torino)
    I think you could say something similar in Italian:

    Ma guarda sto frocio! :warn: = Ma guarda che stronzo!:warn:
  10. BluePoint Senior Member

    Italia, Italian
    And in Italian too, some gay men would refer to themselves or, jokingly, to their friends as "frocio":warn:, while they would never do it in less "safe" contexts. At least, this is what my gay friends do.
    The use of offensive words as a form of self-identification is clearly a political action, so I'd say only people that are part of a discriminated group are really entitled to use them
  11. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    There is an old soldier's song "Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag" from WW I that goes "while you've a lucifer (Belgian match) to light your fag, smile boys that's the style!" This, fortunately, did not refer to the immolation of others of a different sexual orientation, but to lighting a cigarette. The word may have come from the same word fag, meaning a loose end, or faggot which means a bundle of twigs to put on a fire. Fag in the sexual sense is said to derive from the Yiddish faygele (cf. German Vöglein, Swiss Ger.Vögeli, a little bird). I personally still reserve the word fag as a pejorative or jocular term for cigarette; there are plenty of different words for the other idea.
  12. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Italian, Italy
  13. Starbuck

    Starbuck Senior Member

    Hi Beauxyeux,

    To answer your question:
    Yes, most gay men use the word "gay" to self-identify, if of course they even choose to self-identify. The more conservative element of our society, however, is often very vocal about the fact that homosexuals, according to these conservative thinkers, have "stolen" the word "gay" for themselves when, in fact, "gay" means happy, cheerful.

    In the earlier part of the 20th century, it would have been common to hear people say things such as "It was a very gay and festive party." But because the word "gay" is now so firmly associated with sexual orientation (straight vs. gay), the use of the word in its original meaning has virtually disappeared from usage, both in speech and in writing.

    But to return to your original question--that of self-identification:
    It really depends on the person and the context and whether that context is political or social.

    I'm gay. (overwhelmingly, the most commonly used term to self-identify)
    I'm homosexual. (for the "purists")
    I'm queer. (currently politically correct in academia)

    Starbuck :)
  14. beauxyeux Senior Member

    italian italy
    Grazie mille Starbuck!

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