On Sat, 15 Feb 2003 17:01:33 -0600 Terrell Dempsey
> So, my thinking is, if you don't know how to tell your children
> what kind of language is appropriate to use at home, school,
> playground, church, mosque or synagogue -- and especially what kind
> will get the bejeezies beat out of you -- then you don't have any
> business raising kids anyway.
Very well put! Very well indeed.
I also participate in the list of the American Dialect Society, mostly
academics of a decidedly liberal bent, where sexual and scatological
terms are discussed openly, often with glee. But they tiptoe around the
word in question (as did I just there).
The word "nigger" -- there, I said it -- has perhaps the most complex
social history in the English language. Even more than ... you know ...
that other word. Not only has its meaning and impact changed from
generation to generation, sometimes even faster, but its use has had two
different channels of usage and change, depending on your race.
Johnny Cochrin opened a new phase. Prior to that, when referring to the
word we had to say "quote-nigger-endquote" (using the words "quote" and
"endquote"). Post-Cochrin even that was unacceptable, and we got a decade
of "The N-Word."
The truth is that any word has power only as we choose to give it to
them. And giving such awesome power to "The N-Word" does no service to
Blacks (showing my generation, but perhaps Negroes, Coloreds,
Afro-Americans, African Americans, People of Color, depending on yours).
Certainly MT's social context was very, very different from ours. And
that context, and today's, need to be explained. But refusal to even
utter the syllables gives the word power it does not deserve.
(Incidentally, my spell checker refused to recognize "nigger".)