Canada does not have “gay marriage”; all we have is marriage. Gays can get married, and that has resulted in sanding down some spiky points in our English usage.

Here are two facts some might find disturbing:

  • The man you’re married to is your husband even if you are a man yourself.
  • The woman you’re married to is your wife even if you are a woman yourself.

Hence not only is it proper to refer to his husband or her wife, those are the only terms you can use, at least if you want to be accurate. (George Smitherman does not have a “partner” named Christopher Peloso.)

So: Has the usage of his husband and her wife expanded in recent years? I checked the Canadian Newsstand and Candian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA) databases. I looked at years before, during, and after what Americans insist on calling “gay marriage” became legal nationwide. Every use is included, including pejorative or mocking usages from right-wing assholes; phrases with intervening words (his so-called “husband”; her pretend “wife”) are not included.

Year 2009 YTD 2008 2005 2000 1999 1990
Source News CBCA News CBCA News CBCA News CBCA News CBCA News CBCA
his husband 25 16 11 7 8 5 5 0 2 1 0 0
her wife 17 10 19 7 24 (!) 8 5 0 14 (!) 1 4 0

In the last three years, usage has doubled for her wife (outlier excluded) and tripled for his husband.

Popped the question? Got a yes? Not hitched yet? Then what you have is a fiancé(e). That one I haven’t looked up.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2009.12.22 14:06. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

(Values you enter are stored and may be published)



None. I quit.

Copyright © 2004–2024