What's in a Name? Special Edition: Lady Gaga

gaga apr22.jpg
Photos by Marco Torres
"Wow!" you're thinking. "That rascally little go-getter with one f managed to snuggle up next to Lady Gaga while she was in town last week and get the inside story behind her famous moniker!"

Well, truth be told, she stole our cantata based on Faust and had us framed for drug possession. During the subsequent prison sentence, our teeth were pulled and our face mangled in a record press.* That's why a) There's no in-depth interview with milady, and b) it took us a week to get around to putting something together our take on her name.

Ed. Note: Please stop pretending you're the Phantom of the Paradise.

Now, Gaga has mentioned to other journalists in the past that her stage name was a creation of an errant auto-correction in a text that was supposed to read "Radio Ga-Ga." That, for those of you live under a rock yet still somehow have Internet access, was a 1984 single by Queen about how television had overtaken radio as a form of entertainment.

But the word Gaga itself is fraught with all kinds of meaning and pop-culture nuances. First of all, Gaga is actually its own language. Or rather, Gaga is a sub-dialect of the Arpitan language spoken at the alpine borders of France, Switzerland, and Italy.

The Gaga dialect of this dying language originates from the Forez region of France. The name was coined from Auguste Callet's story "La l├ęgende des Gagats." Callet refers to the residents of Saint-Etienne as Gaga, and the name stuck.

The inhabitants should probably be leery of the title. The word Gaga appears in several different cultures as a slang term and almost never as something positive. In English it can refer to someone who is senile, psychotically obsessed, or just regularly psychotic.


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