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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 4 Mar 1998 07:33:03 -0500
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Ropapope wrote:
>                     Historicly, at least according to some of my very aged
> relatives, the term "nigger" did not have quite the negative spin in Twain's
> time as it came to have in later times.

I agree that (for some people) the word had less negative spin, but it had
less for a chilling reason.  As one sees from Huck and Aunt Sally's "Well
it's lucky; because sometimes people get hurt" conversation in chapter 32,
the word had no negative spin to slave-holders.  It simply referred to
someone who would not be considered to be a human being.  For the persons
who use the word today, it still does.  The word only has negative spin
for those of us who don't wish to refer to some people as less than human.

My apologies to Gary for keeping the thread alive.  But it seems to me
that most of the criticism on _Huck Finn_ and the n-word implies that
there's been some big change in the meaning of the word since the
nineteenth century.  In my opinion, the meaning has not changed at all and
that--coupled with the fact that many people still seem to consider African
Americans to be less than human--is why the book is so controversial

As to why African Americans can freely use the word but I can't, I presume
that's for the same reason that you can say something negative about your
mother, but I better not.

thanks, larry marshburne         [log in to unmask]