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A vegan

June 22, 2016

My daughter Ros has just become a vegan; but she recently rebuked me for putting it that way. “I’m not a vegan,” she said. “I’m vegan.”

Fair point. I had not realised that putting in that indefinite article made any difference, but it does. With a, the word vegan is a noun; without it, an adjective. And for some reason, the noun sounds more critical, more distanced, more negative, whereas the adjective sounds friendlier and more accepting. Similarly, saying of someone “He’s a homosexual” would sound vaguely disapproving, while “He’s homosexual” is just a description. It works for nationalities and religions, too: “She’s a Jew” seems to hint at anti-semitism, while “She’s Jewish” is unexceptionable.

Another example of the subtle nuances of our beloved tongue. I shall be careful with my indefinite articles in future.

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One Comment
  1. Steph permalink

    Similarly I get irritated when people refer to ‘the elderly’ or ‘the poor’, like they are a separate race, completely alien to ‘the rest of us ‘(non elderly or poor). Why do they do that ?

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