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Gossip

From Academic Kids

Template:Wiktionary The word gossip may refer to:

  • the act of spreading news from person to person, especially rumors or private information: see chat
  • the news spread through the act of gossiping

While gossip forms one of the oldest and (still) the most common means of spreading and sharing information, it also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information thus transmitted. The term also carries implications that the news so transmitted (usually) has a personal or trivial nature. Compare conversation.

Gossip has recently come into the academy as a fruitful avenue of study, particularly in light of its relationship to both overt and implicit power structures. Compare discourse.

Some newspapers carry "gossip columns" which retail the social and personal lives of celebrities or of élite members of a local community.

Contents

Etymology

The word "gossip" originates from god-sib, the godparent of one's child or parent of one's godchildren ("god-sibling"), referring to a relationship of close friendship. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the usage of godsib back as far as 1014.

One story (probably apocryphal) tells how, at the beginning of the 20th century, politicians would send assistants to bars to sit and listen to general public conversations. The assistants had instructions to sip a beer and listen to opinions; they responded to the command to "go sip", which allegedly turned into "gossip".

(Note that the Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of gossip in the meaning of "idle talk; trifling or groundless rumour; tittle-tattle ... [e]asy, unrestrained talk or writing, esp. about persons or social incidents" back as far as 1811; and the verb to gossip as far back as the early 17th century.)

Functions of gossip

Gossip can serve to:

Enemies of gossip

Some see gossip as trivial, hurtful and socially and/or intellectually unproductive. The Bahá'í faith, for instance, frowns on gossip.

In a more sinister interpretation, restrictions on gossip could potentially paralyse the free flow of information and enforce straight-jacketed thinking and censorship in a community. Compare freedom of speech.

Quotes

Gossip, even when it avoids the sexual, bears around it a faint flavor of the erotic. - Patricia Meyer Spacks

See also

Bibliography

  • Robert F. Goodman and A. Ben-Zeev, eds. Good Gossip. Univ. Press of Kansas, 1993.
  • Patricia Meyer Spacks. Gossip. New York: Knopf, 1985.

External links

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