September 07, 2004

Bisexual chic is back already

I'm afraid that I couldn't find myself disagreeing more strongly with Geoff, who criticizes the claim that the word bisexual is usually followed by the word chic in the mainstream press. Of course,  the facts are on his side, as usual. There is, as it happens, a single word that follows bisexual over half the time in the news, and it ain't chic. Any idea what it is?


Yes, and. If you do the search "bisexual and|&" in Google news (gee, I didn't know you could use disjunctions in the middle of Google string searches. Well, you can, and it's pretty damn useful. E.g. I've recently been looking at there-insertion using queries like "there s|is|are a|1..1000 * linguist|linguists",  which matches e.g. "There are 8 indiginous linguists in Columbia". Gee, I didn't....) you'll find that simple conjunctions account for 498 of 990 hits on bisexual. Like so many frequency counts, this represents another dull triumph for function over content. So yeah, it's true that Geoff is factually correct. Totally. 100%. Again. But what a boring world this would be if we listened to Geoff all the time just because he's right. Pullumizing the article in question, the crucial sentence would read:

It's difficult to find a piece of writing in the mainstream press which mentions the word bisexual without finding that it is immediately followed by the word and or possibly transgender(ed), or, man/men, gay, people/person, woman/women, who, community/communities, but, character(s), or any of a few hundred more words or an item of punctuation.

Yawn. I stand with Bi-Victoria newsletter writers and BBC science commentators here: let us not allow mere facts to stand in the way of good journalism. Animals can talk, eskimos' brains are so warped by the gazillions of snow words in their heads that they have to take an extra long nap after lunch, and bisexual chic is in.

By the way, there is a charming footnote at the end of the newsletter piece Geoff linked to, which begins:


* A reader of this article pointed out that monogamy and racism are not morally equivalent.

Nooooo? Really? Geoff, you nit-picker, will you please leave the poor journalist alone?

Posted by David Beaver at September 7, 2004 04:38 AM