The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119441 Message #2590875
Posted By: Azizi
17-Mar-09 - 07:31 AM
Thread Name: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
Thanks to all who have posted to this thread so far.
Kat, I'll read your chapter.
Sinister Supporter, you wrote "I was referring to the use of gay to mean naff; in which case it would be used impersonally, directed at a piece of music, a television programme or an event, all of which could be said to be gay (or rather totally gay in the South Park speak of a decade ago)."
Sinister Supporter, are you from the United States, The UK, or another country? It appears that you are saying that you remember kids (and adults?) the word "naff" and the phrase "totally gay" where you live. Perhaps both the word and the phrase were/are used in the US and mean what you wrote. But I've never heard either of them among any African American children, teens, or adults. I asked my daughter who is in her 30s. She has never heard "naff" or "totally gay" either. This doesn't mean that that word and that phrase aren't used among African Americans. But I believe that if they were/are widely used in our media/shows/recordings, we (my daughter and I) would at least be familiar with them.
I looked up "naff" in the Urban Dictionary (a dictionary whose featured words and phrases aren't limited to Black urban slang). Visitors submit definitions for the featured word/phrase and those definitions are voted up or down by other visitors to that site.
Seventeen definitions were submitted for the word "naff". The definition that was voted #1 by 277 persons is:
"naff 277 up, 26 down
British slang, today meaning uncool, tacky, unfashionable, worthless... or as a softer expletive, in places where one might use "fuck" as in "naff off", "naff all", "naffing about".
Origins of the word are disputed, but it appears to have come from Polari (gay slang), used to dismissively refer to heterosexual people. It was introduced as a less offensive expletive verb ("naff off") in the '70s UK television show, Porridge. "Naff off!" was famously used by Princess Anne in 1982."
One more thing, Sinister Supporter, neither my daughter nor I have ever watched the South Park television show or its movies. However, my daughter said that some of her friends have watched it and they think it's funny. I think that the "totally gay" phrase may not have been picked up by African Americans because it sounds to much like Valley Girl lingo.
Here's a quote from that Wikipedia page whose link is provided in the preceding sentence:
"A certain sociolect associated with Valley Girls, referred to as "Valspeak," became common across the United States during the 1980s and 1990s, and much entered teenage slang throughout the country.
"Qualifiers such as "like", "way", "as if!", "totally" and "duh" were interjected in the middle of phrases and sentences as emphasizers."
My sense is that Valspeak is more likely to borrow from Black (hip-hop and otherwise) slang/vernacular than the other way around.