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The Wordsmith's Forge - Asexy Slang: Squash
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Asexy Slang: Squash
I was talking with a friend about asexual romantic relationships and realized -- oh look, English doesn't have a noun for "person in a close relationship that is romantic but not sexual."  

I'm seriously thinking "squash" would fit there, because "zucchini" is a general queerplatonic partner word, and "squish" refers to asexual crushes. I pretty much can't trip over a lexical gap without wanting to shovel something into it.

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cbpotts From: cbpotts Date: April 6th, 2014 11:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
And squash sounds good; it's a happy sounding word that makes one smile to say it in much the way crush does. (At least for me, I don't know how to explain 'word feel' but you of all people probably understand completely)

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2014 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

When you say it, it's kind of like blowing a kiss, because of the "w" in the word.
flameraven From: flameraven Date: April 7th, 2014 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I dunno, I don't know that I really want to refer to people that I care deeply about as food/vegetables. :/ Especially when so many foods have sexual subtexts attached to them.

Squash also has the other meaning of being crushed and flattened. That... that is also not an ideal term for a relationship.

I guess I don't understand the need for a new word that would broadcast the details of one's relationship so clearly. All anyone needs to know is that you are in a relationship with someone. What is or isn't happening physically is no-one's business.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

>> I dunno, I don't know that I really want to refer to people that I care deeply about as food/vegetables. <<

Alternative terms are welcome.

>> I guess I don't understand the need for a new word that would broadcast the details of one's relationship so clearly. All anyone needs to know is that you are in a relationship with someone. What is or isn't happening physically is no-one's business. <<

Because people LOVE to talk about those things, often in exhaustive detail, as see the content of entire genres of entertainment. The most common configuration, romantic heterosexual, has abundant vocabulary for this: boyfriend/girlfriend, crush, lover, husband/wife, etc. People of different orientations often wish to have similar conversations but may find the available terms inaccurate or unappealing. Therefore they are currently engaged in exploring new options.

What this does is save time. It encodes a lot of information into a concise package. This makes it easier to talk about, which facilitates communication, which is something that many people want. "This is Bob," tells people nothing about Bob's place in your life, and maybe that's what you want. But a woman might want to say, "This is my boyfriend Bob" which conveys things like "So don't hit on him" and "We'd like to sit together." "This is my zucchini Bob" conveys that questions about a wedding are unwelcome, but that Bob occupies an important lifespace and ought not to be dismissed as 'just a friend.'
flameraven From: flameraven Date: April 7th, 2014 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

I have no good ideas for alternative terms because for me boyfriend/girlfriend/partner work just fine. I tend to be a private person, and get anxious when I am too much the center of attention, and so making up a new word for myself or a relationship that would basically point a sign at me saying "I'm different!" is... not a thing that I want to do.

If people feel like they need a new word, though, because current ones are somehow inadequate, I think it would be more effective to make up something clearly unique, and not just try to add meanings onto something existing-- or if you're going to do that, it has to be less common than a random vegetable. Grabbing something with a Greek or Latin base is always good for new English words. Combining other already-established relationship terms could work. Or there's always stealing something from another language. (I'll admit I'm rather fond of the Japanese term 'nakama' to refer to a group of your very closest friends.)

Usually, if you're going to make up new words, you need to at least borrow from things that already have similar meanings-- "zucchini" is a word so divorced from connotations of friendships/relationships I'm a little baffled as to why that was the term chosen.

siege From: siege Date: April 10th, 2014 12:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

I guess you'd call 'em a zucchini because they're not a cucumber? (Referring to the implied sexual use -- zucchini have stiff hairs that would make them unsuitable for it, but they are excellent foodstuff.)
flameraven From: flameraven Date: April 10th, 2014 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

That would work if "cucumber" was an accepted term that referred to relationships. But it's not.
johnpalmer From: johnpalmer Date: April 8th, 2014 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
One major point in creating words to refer to a concept is that sometimes people don't even realize there *is* a concept until it's named. It sounds weird, but a name gives something a brain can grab a hold of and feel.

One interesting view of language is that language is, in many ways, cutting away. When I refer to a "tree" one can view that as tossing out everything that is clearly not-a-tree. And so a new word because a new cutting away, a literary sculpture of sorts.

(Hah. And now I just flashed on the old joke, "sculpting an elephant is easy; take a marble block, and cut away everything that doesn't look like an elephant.")
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 8th, 2014 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>> One major point in creating words to refer to a concept is that sometimes people don't even realize there *is* a concept until it's named. It sounds weird, but a name gives something a brain can grab a hold of and feel. <<

Agreed. Those of us who think easily without words go stand on the edge of language and make more of it for people to stand on who need words to think about things.

This is also why it's valuable to have different languages; they help us see the world in different ways. Russian has two words for light and dark blue, the same way English has two words for pink and red. They're not perceived as shades of the same color, like light and dark green.

>> (Hah. And now I just flashed on the old joke, "sculpting an elephant is easy; take a marble block, and cut away everything that doesn't look like an elephant.") <<

The interesting thing about this is, some people's brains actually work that way. They see an animal in a block of wood or stone, and dig it out.
flameraven From: flameraven Date: April 8th, 2014 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sure. It's easier to talk about a concept when you've got a word to encompass it.

Mostly what I'm saying is, if you're going to make up words out of whole cloth, and you want them to stick around, you need to think a bit about how language works and make sure that new word is something that people can easily understand and use.

Like I said, I would really like to know why someone picked 'zucchini' as the word for that idea, because I think most people are going to have a hard time associating a vegetable with an interpersonal relationship. The definition of the vegetable is too strongly established. So I don't see 'zucchini' as a slang term likely to gain a lot of traction or use outside that particular community. "Squish" works a little better-- it sounds similar to 'crush', and they're similar ideas, with 'squish' being a gentler form of crushing. So it's easy to connect "squishing" on someone as being like a crush, but without the sexual attraction.

If we want to make up a word for an asexual romantic relationship... I would start by looking at words or word roots focusing on partnership, commitment, and binding ties, and try to modify out from there.

johnpalmer From: johnpalmer Date: April 10th, 2014 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nod. I don't grok how zucchini became a term - it makes me feel like it's an inside joke (and that's the kind of thing that bugs me a bit because I'm used to being on the outside - so an "inside joke" has a bit of a push-away feeling for me - my baggage, but I don't think I'm alone in having it).

"Squash" as a variant of "crush" could kinda-sorta work, though... and it might be able to grow by usage (which is technically how all language grows).

siliconshaman From: siliconshaman Date: April 7th, 2014 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Squash has more negative/destructive connotations for non-american Europeans though without the food reference, perhaps the English word Squadge? [pronounced like a mash-up of squash & judge] Meaning to jam something into a too-tight space or fit something pliable into a gap so that it fits.
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Name: Elizabeth Barrette
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