Use of the word ‘fag’ over time

Apropos of our reading of Dude, You’re a Fag this week, here is a fascinating chart that Wheaton student Sammy Tannatta generated via a Google program that tracks the occurrence of the word ‘fag’ over time.

As Sammy says, “It wasn’t surpassing to me that throughout the 60’s all the way to the 80’s, during a time of acceptance, the use of “fag” dropped significantly; now during the 2000’s, as the conversation of gender has become a hot topic, the use of the word “fag” is on the rise again and is at it’s peek. I think this an interesting parallel of cultural anthropology and linguistic athro. – looking at events of a particular time period and the way it’s talked about and expressed.”

From an anthropological perspective, I would add that we should also be curious about the (multiple?) meanings of ‘fag’ and how they have changed over time. A linguist would refer to this as the indexicality of the term ‘fag’. This is something that is not necessarily represented in the chart. The most obvious example of this is simply how ‘fag’ is sometimes used in the UK, as indexing a cigarette.


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