Sunday, May 07, 2006

Preliminary (and concluding) note

As a scholar of the history of homosexuality, I have long been interested in the vast (and problematic) repertoire of language that we use to describe it. Understanding this corpus takes us beyond the English language--to cognate Western European tongues, and to Greek and Latin. One necessarily becomes involved in the ideologies, often hostile, which have shaped the growth of these vocabularies.

Twenty years ago I made a preliminary approach to this task in a sketch, a short monograph entitled Homolexis. Over the years I have become disatisfied with the method used in that book, not just for the inadequacies of detail, but because the alphabetical arrangement was too atomistic. I was looking for a way of showing the relationships among words. Now I believe that I have found those links in the idea of tropes, that is to say, metaphors and clusters of meaning which undergird both the coinage of words and their ongoing success. For this new approach I have taken the liberty of purloining my older term homolexis. I will also sometimes use the terms homolexicon and homolexemes, the latter denoting the individual words.

The structure of the new endeavor, in effect a book, is as follows. The opening chapter discusses general matters and linguistic theory. Then their follows the main part, the tropes (there are fifty-four of them). Their are five concluding chapters on the individual languages (English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish). These profiles serve as resource accounts, sketching the diachronic (historical) growth of the corpus in each language.

The draft is essentially done (in my computer). I will therefore begin to upload the material, beginning with the last (the Spanish profile). As each section is autonomous, reading this material should not be a problem. Of course the overall design will become clearer as more of the chapters appear.


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