Thursday, November 22, 2018

Racial Slur

Am I getting this wrong, but when a news story mentions that someone used a "racial slur," is there more than one anymore?  Does anyone say "darkies" - or is there still some old Jewish guy speaking offhandedly about "schvartzes?" I did hear, once in the last decade, someone use the word "colored," and remember wondering how long it had been since I'd heard it.  There used to be many words, now there is one.

I'm not looking for a list of offensive terms, I'm just wondering if there is a meaning to that.  I have to think it's a positive, but I haven't made much study of taboo words, so perhaps one single term with intensity is a worse sign.

I have written about the word nigger a few times over the years.  I don't know that my observations have made people any wiser.


Korora said...

As a compulsive mutterer of randomness, I have had to cultivate a strong inhibition against that word; I will not utter, write, or type it in full under any circumstances.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That's probably wise. Who knows what we might say out loud in the nursing home.

charlie said...

THe only new pejorative term for Black Americans that comes to my mind offhand is "dindu" as in "Officer, I dindu nothin'"

Of course there are terms for people of East Asian or Middle Eastern descent as well. Anyone can tell you some of them in a bar, and probably will with a little prompting.

I don't know if that term (dindu) has gotten any traction. James LaFond uses it, and the weirdos who frequent his web site. You can learn a lot from going there, and some of what is there is worth reading, though some is either meanspirited or invidious.

If you want to learn the lingo you could hang out at James LaFond, VDare, and has a variaty of weirdos in the comment fields. Takimag used to, but they killed their comment fields. Maybe AmRen? I don't even like to go to VDare though some of their essayists are worth reading and a few are mainstream (Pat Buchanan for example, is he mainstream?).

I occasionally end up at VDare by accident, and I still consider Peter Brimelow's book _Alien Nation_ a serious work worth holding in the back of one's mind as we think of ethnic politics helping to ruin Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, etc.

You could also try Urban Dictionary, but the taboo against the "N" word is considerable and who knows if there is a listing under the word. I know Urban Dictionary has some good information on attestations of peckerwood, redneck, finna. teenagers seem to make up words and nominate them, or use it for pranking.

I never post anonymously, just to stay on my best behavior.

Yours truly,

Charles W. Abbott

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I agree about Vdare, Unz, and Taki. Some of the writers are merely saying things people don't want to hear, but are valuable. Some commenters consider it a playground to say whatever dark thoughts cross their minds, or show off how outrageous they are. It's a hard choice for a site like that. If your whole site is devoted to saying things you think are true and valuable that are being neglected or even suppressed in the general conversation, you have a real inconsistency if you are heavy on the censorship and moderation on your own site. OTOH, if you are on the fringe, whether justly or unjustly, you are going to have lots of people who are on the fringe for worse reasons, and you don't want to encourage them.

My other recent post about people not being able to look at their own ideas very well may apply.

charlie said...

Too many slippery slopes are out there, as well as twitter mobs waiting to pounce on the smallest indiscretion that we typed years ago.

Motivated Reasoning, COnfirmation Bias, Bulverisms wait to get the best of us all. I will return to your older post and ponder.

Getting back to questionable web sites...

An odd article I once saw at AmRen (maybe dated 1991) claimed that most Black South Africans couldln't imagine a native language dictionary with words in (for example) Zulu or Khosa that the average native speaker didn't know, but were only in the dictionary. The author claimed that native Black South Africans could not conceive of a dictionary as we know it.

Oddly enough, the native Yoruba speakers I know (making a leap to West Africa) tend to be the opposite. Yorubas often comment on their own poor command of the Yoruba lexis and grammatical constructions, especially including the Yoruba proverbs which are full of archaic usages and are frequently obscure to even a proficient adult speaking nowadays.

The typical comment (in English) is something like "My father speaks deep Yoruba" or "My grandmother speaks deep Yoruba," implying that the person speaking at the moment has much shallower proficiency in the language in all its splendor.

Often skeptchy web sites are full of people who are preaching to the choir and not sympathetic to counter-arguments. But that's true many places.

Kind Regards,

Charles W. Abbott

Christopher B said...

My general impression is that they are attempting to extend the general revulsion at That Word to a word or phrase that is vaugely racial in character but unlikely to immediately elicit condemnation.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Charlie - Fascinating about the African languages. I may go over to Language Log and do a search to see if an explanation comes up. My initial guess is that it will have to do with how long various languages have been in isolation versus being stripped down by contact with other languages. People left to themselves develop enormous complexity that is puzzling even to people who speak closely related languages. But languages that exist along a continuum, so that people on the far ends of the chain cannot understand each other but those in the middle can communicate somewhat with tribes they perceive as speaking a different language. When people are communicating across a continuum like that, the language gets stripped down.

It has long been taught, somewhat for political reasons, that all languages are equally complicated. That is not true, but it is closer to the truth than the idea that some peoples speak only simple Ugga Bugga languages. That latter perception comes from the automatic response we have to a person not speaking our language as well as we do. Well duh. We sound stupid in their language, too. No one now considers Swedes or Poles below average in intelligence, but there was a time when the stereotype in mill cities was "big dumb Swede," or "stupid Polack." My children would get frustrated every time I tried to speak even a little Romanian, I was butchering it so badly.

So there may be some actual simpler languages out there, but I'm betting against it.

charlie said...

John McWhorter talks about this in _Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue_, about how adult foreigners (typically invaders) often can't master the nuance of verb flexions and cases, so English and Modern Persian have simpler verb flections than (say) Pashto or Modern HIgh German, much less something like Latvian which might have 9 cases--if I recall correctly.

Also, a similar point is hinted at in _The reader over your shoulder_. There is so much to know, and many people who write on the topic are self-appointed "mavens" as Steven Pinker calls them. But it's always fun to learn more.

Kind regards,

Charles W. Abbott

Donna B. said...

Well... this post and comments was "interesting". I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Tom Bridgeland said...

Lots of racial slurs out there. Depends on who you hang out with. My current associates don't use them, but back a decade when I drove a forklift, I heard a lot.