Words of the Week: What to Call Same-Sex Spouses, the “Obamaquester” And More

In this week's edition of Wednesday Words, NewsFeed highlights intriguing and controversial terms that have been in the news.

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David McGlynn

And now, some of the more controversial and intriguing terms that have been in the news:

partners (n.): the Associated Press’ preferred reference for same-sex individuals in civil unions or marriages. 

In a recent memo, editors of the AP Stylebook — a standard reference for journalists — said their default terminology for same-sex spouses is couples or partners, as opposed to husbands or wives. The memo includes the caveat that if same-sex couples use “husband” or “wife” in direct speech or “regularly” use such terms, then the reporter should feel free to use them, too. But that didn’t stop the memo from causing hubbub among LGBT advocates.

Liberal outfits such as ThinkProgress argue that the edict amounts to institutionalizing a “second-class vocabulary” or advocating “separate but equal” language — while others have defended the AP, emphasizing that the editors did not “ban” the use of husband or wife when referring to same-sex couples, as some critics claimed. A popular Twitter feed that lambastes the Stylebook released their own guidance as the controversy heated up: “Avoid using ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ in reference to same-sex married couples,” wrote Fake AP Stylebook, “instead use ‘roommates’ or ‘confirmed co-bachelors.'”

flipped learning (n.): a classroom model in which the lesson is treated as homework and class time is used for practice.

Using the “flipped learning” model, teachers might make videos of what they would have scribbled on the overhead projector. Students watch the basic-concept lessons on their smartphones or laptops before getting to class, and then class time can be used for more interactive practice. A recent AP article declares that teachers are “flipping” over flipped learning. Dogs must also be rejoicing that computers will now be the go-to scapegoats.

obamaquester (n., slang): a pejorative name for the upcoming sequester used by critics of President Obama.

The esoteric word sequester, a name for upcoming across-the-board cuts, has become widespread enough that politicians are fusing it with other terms. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner and other Republicans, anxious to pin the idea on Obama, have been trying to push Obamaquester into the public consciousness like Obamacare before it. Concerns about the sequester are ramping up, so we should expect to see an end-of-the-world fusion, too. The question is, will pundits call it the “apocaquester” or “sequestageddon”?

gizit ere (phr., slang): regional British slang for ‘please give it to me.’

A British primary school has gotten itself into a bit of Barney. Officials sent a note home to parents, asking them to correct non-standard phrases and pronunciations that the kids were using, which quickly started an op-ed feud about whether schools should be cleansing students of regional dialects. A critic at the London Guardian even wrote a phonetic polemic about how “sum misgiyded folk mite think yor just a dope” for using phrases like “gizit ere.” You know, like how people might react if you went around wearing this t-shirt.