Was it "getting" or "gay"?

« previous post | next post »

Patrick Redford, "There's Nothing To Say About What Andrew Wiggins Said That's Not Conditional", Deadspin 1/9/2018:

Andrew Wiggins went off for 40 points on the Thunder last night in a lively game that featured 32-year-old interim coach Ryan Saunders getting his first win and Thunder guard Dennis Schröder getting ejected for shoving. Wiggins was asked about Schröder’s ejection after the game, and he either said, “He was getting—he was acting crazy,” or, “He was gay. He was acting crazy.” Those are obviously two very different quotes, and as much as I think he’s mumbling “getting,” the tape is ultimately inconclusive.

"Andrew Wiggins: Would never disrespect LGBTQIA community", ESPN 1/9/2018:

Hours after he called Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder "gay," Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins sought to clarify his remark, saying early Wednesday morning that he wouldn't use "any term to disrespect" the LGBT community.

Here's the audio — which I also hear as "getting", with elision of the intervocalic flap, resulting in a pronunciation like [gɛ̃ŋ] or maybe [gɛ̃ɪ̃ŋ]:

I don't know what's wrong with him
uh he was just getting- he was acting crazy for no reason

Just the key phrase:

uh he was just getting- he was acting crazy for no reason

And just the pronunciation of "getting":


But there are three possible reasons for the rising F2 and falling F1 in the vocalic nucleus of the /gV/, whatever it is — it could be the diphthong in "gay", it could be a transition from [ɛ] to [ɪ] or [i] across a deleted [ɾ], and in either case it could be the effect of the following word "he"…

The spectrogram doesn't really tell us much more:

All in all, it's yet another piece of evidence that we don't know much about how people actually talk, even in very well studied languages like English.



  1. Robert said,

    January 9, 2019 @ 9:28 pm

    Looking at it logically, "he was gay" makes no sense. Was Schroder only gay until his ejection?

    [(myl) At some point in the 80s and 90s, among many American youth, gay was bleached to the point of meaning something like "inappropriate" or just "deprecated".

    The online slang dictionary gives glosses including "displeasing" and "lame" (which of course was similarly bleached).]

  2. Ellen K. said,

    January 9, 2019 @ 10:55 pm

    Trying it, I find it surprisingly easy to pronounce "getting" so it sounds like "gay".

  3. cameron said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 12:09 am

    Since, in context, "gay" makes no sense, and "getting" does make sense, it's pretty clear what he was saying.

  4. Breffni said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 1:23 am

    ESPN certainly seem to have made up their minds about it: "Hours after he called Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder 'gay'…". Not "after he was accused of calling Schroder gay" or anything as neutral as that — even though they quote Wiggins' denial/clarification.

    BTW, the first link goes to the ESPN article, not to Deadspin.

  5. Philip Taylor said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 4:19 am

    I know that the usage is a direct quotation of the ESPN original, but "LGBTQIA" in the introduction does appear to be a first for Language Log. I knew the abbreviation first as LGB, then (courtesy of Language Log) as LGBTQ, but for me at least, the addition of "IA" is completely new. Whilst I understand that those coining the abbreviation seeks to be inclusive, I do think it might now be starting to verge on the ridiculous — how long will it be, I wonder, before it requires all 26 letters of the Latin alphabet to include everyone of every sexuality/gender/whatever that might feel marginalised if not explicitly included ?

  6. David Marjanović said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 5:06 am

    all 26 letters of the Latin alphabet

    QUILTBAG: Q for questioning and (the reclaimed) queer, U for undecided/unclear, I for intersex, A for asexual and perhaps aromantic.

  7. Jeremy said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 5:27 am

    On a somewhat related note, what your take on the weather man and Martin Luther Coon/King?
    If you believe he didn't mean to so it, it seems like that would be an extremely easy mistake to make with the Us from Luther and Junior mixing with the King to produce something like Koon(g).

    [(myl) Basically, yes — Discussed here.]

  8. Jeremy said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 5:29 am

    (Sorry the typos! Weatherman. What IS your take. Didn't mean to SAY it.)

  9. Richard Hershberger said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 6:56 am

    I recently asked my eleven year old if kids nowadays use the generically deprecatory "gay." She knew that it existed, but said that it was not current. She also thought, in light of the "homosexual" sense of the word, that the generically deprecatory sense was nonsensical. The kids are alright.

  10. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 7:12 am

    It seems to me that 'inappropriate' or 'undesirable' doesn't really work in this context. 'Gay' in its 'bleached' sense conveys a value judgement, with hardly any descriptive element, while what is needed here is a description of the state a person was in at a particular time (as 'crazy' is). So I go with 'getting'.

  11. Grover Jones said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 8:14 am

    Ask the man what he said. If he said it was "getting," and he has no history of lying, that should be the end of it.

  12. Robert Coren said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 10:42 am

    @Richard Hershberger: "The kids are alright."

    Well, your kid is, anyway.

  13. Michèle Sharik Pituley said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 11:33 am

    @Philip: the IA has been there for a few years, at least.

    @David: “QUILTBAG” — that’s my favorite, too. As a bonus, it’s easy to pronounce.

    PS. Any news on the still-missing option to subscribe to comment threads? If anybody has relied to my previous questions, I haven’t seen it—because I don’t get notices of subsequent comments….

  14. Philip Taylor said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 12:27 pm

    MSP ("the IA has been there for a few years, at least"). My point was solely that this appears to be a first usage of that particular form on Language Log : (cf. https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&biw=1440&q="LGBTQIA"+%2Bsite%3Alanguagelog.ldc.upenn.edu)

  15. Chandra said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 4:25 pm

    Gay person here, and I can say that in addition to "getting" making a lot more sense in the context, I read his follow-up tweet as genuine – it's usually pretty easy to tell from word choice, etc. when someone is simply backpedalling due to pressure rather than expressing sincere acceptance.

  16. Rick Rubenstein said,

    January 10, 2019 @ 9:37 pm

    I have nothing substantive to add to the analysis, but I want everyone who reads this to know that I strongly support getting rights.

  17. Rose Eneri said,

    January 11, 2019 @ 9:52 am

    @David Marjanović – "A for asexual and perhaps aromantic"

    Thank you for this explanation and for the hearty laugh when I first read this to say "A for asexual and perhaps aromatic."

  18. Philip Taylor said,

    January 11, 2019 @ 10:03 am

    Had you not commented on that phrase, Rose, I would almost certainly never have realised that it read "aromantic" rather than "aromatic".

  19. Michèle Sharik Pituley said,

    January 11, 2019 @ 10:41 am

    @Philip: Ah, sorry for misunderstanding. I was going by your “but for me at least, the addition of "IA" is completely new“.

  20. David Marjanović said,

    January 13, 2019 @ 3:11 pm

    The terms homo-, hetero-, bi- and aromantic (haven't seen panromantic yet, but it ought to exist) were coined because not everyone's romantic orientations line up with their sexual ones. Aromantic people are those who don't fall in love.

  21. Doug said,

    January 15, 2019 @ 7:06 am

    "(myl) At some point in the 80s and 90s, among many American youth, gay was bleached to the point of meaning something like "inappropriate" or just "deprecated"."

    From personal recollection, I'd say it started in the 1970s.

RSS feed for comments on this post