The Dreaded N Word

Discussion in 'Evolution of Language' started by Hal Pollner, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Very Well-Known Member
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    Over here the word is totally unacceptable except in extreme-right circles.
     
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  2. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    I had to think back in order to figure out how the slang even enters into the German language. All I was taught was the term “swartzer” and it didn’t hit home to me until your post that a lot of the German language is interwoven with Latin and the Latin root for the N word is Niger, meaning black.

    So, thanks for you post Thomas for I most certainly needed the “connect the dots” mode of my brain to warm up.
     
    #152
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  3. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Very Well-Known Member
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    You are welcome, Bobby. In this case, however, the word seems to have been taken directly from English as have many other words rather than it going back to Latin roots.
    The two words mainly found their way into the German language through translations of popular books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Gone with the Wind where I, too, came across them for the first time as a young boy because they weren't translated. Interestingly, even retranslations did not eradicate all these words from Twain's book because that would have been tantamount to castration.
    Attentive readers will become aware that these cruel words are constantly used to label a human who they tend to like and admire which makes the book basically an anti-racist one. What is needed for less attentive readers is explanatory remarks that show how these books are rooted in their time. It is left to the individual to understand that these words are discriminatory and ought not to be used any more. Right-wing extremists refuse to do that. Yet there are also other examples of PC which tend to be over the top like renaming streets like "Moorstreet" or baked goods like "moorkop".
     
    #153
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  4. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    Interesting!
    I was reading that someone involved with the University of Michigan decided that we should substitute a few more words and phrases like “picnic, crack the whip, gyp, hooligan, barbarian etc”.
    They swear that those and other words and phrases are all racist and have alternate meanings that no one (not even those Michiganite moron professors) knows about.
    The first one, picnic, they say goes back to the slave days blah blah blah when in fact the word is derived from French and means something akin to an outside pot luck meal. Kinda like what folks used to do after church.
    As for the rest....garbage.
    Why are folks suddenly looking for things to be offended by?
     
    #154
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2020
  5. Faye Fox

    Faye Fox Very Well-Known Member
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    The Spanish are the ones that brought the African slaves to the Americas. They referred to them as dark or Negra/Negro. Negra/Negro means dark more than it means black. For instance, in Spanish guitars, a dark brown rosewood guitar is called Negra, meaning dark, and a light-colored cypress one is called Blanca, meaning light not necessarily white. No human skin is truly black, just dark brown and no human skin is white, just light brown. The negros in Spain are dark-skinned people originally from Southwest India. When they entered Spain in the 1400's they were called Egipcio Spanish for Egyptians because the Spaniards thought they were from Egypt. Egipcio was shortened to Gitano the Spanish word for Gypsy. The degrading slang of Negra or negro was started by the Southern Plantation owners. Dark-skinned Gitano in Spain still proudly call themselves Los Negros, meaning the dark ones.
     
    #155
  6. Lon Tanner

    Lon Tanner Veteran Member
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    I grew up hearing every racial and ethnic slur imaginable from those around me. Wop, Dago, Chink,Spade,Nigger, Polock,Kraut,Hunky,Greaser,
    When I got to high school I no longer heard these slurs, just read them in books or magazines.
     
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  7. Beth Gallagher

    Beth Gallagher Veteran Member
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    Use of derogatory labels for people is so ignorant.
     
    #157
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  8. Lon Tanner

    Lon Tanner Veteran Member
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    There are lots of ignorant people unfortunately.
     
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  9. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Very Well-Known Member
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    Needless to say, these two books were not the only sources of the N-words. Other books, movies, media, and politics (e.g.colonialism, right-wing movements,etc.) also contributed to spreading the words.
    As I said, there's a similar trend in many a country to replace words and some of those attempts are clearly going too far. As for picnic, you are right about the original origin yet there's also a connotation of the word that emerged later. "The word picnic did not begin with the lynching of black Americans; however, the lynching of blacks often occurred in picnic-like settings."
    https://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/question/2004/january.htm

    I guess I see the derogatory potential of the other examples you mentioned with the exception of hooligan. Do you have any idea?
    Interestingly, there are other words that cause problems when they need to be translated into German. The German word for "race", for example, can, for obvious reasons, not be used for a taxonomy of humans.

    But also within the language itself there are a number of expressions that have an unambiguous reference to the lingua tertii imperii which makes them a no-no for any sane and civilized person. One example is a dog whistle like "Gas geben" (accelerate a car, get active, do something). Neo-Nazis use the word in specific contexts knowing that their followers will understand it as "gassing someone". If they show such linguistic sensitivity, why shouldn't civilized people do so in general?

    Your last question can only be a rhetorical one, can't it, for I think you know the answer yourself.
     
    #159
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  10. Cody Fousnaugh

    Cody Fousnaugh Veteran Member
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    Well, there are some very, very smart "ignorant" people out there as well. Like, graduates from Harvard, Yale and other top-notch schools.
     
    #160
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  11. Tex Dennis

    Tex Dennis Very Well-Known Member
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    race - rennen?
     
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  12. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Very Well-Known Member
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    No, in our context it would be Rasse.
     
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