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John Davis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 18 Apr 2007 10:53:50 -0400
text/plain (43 lines)
Use of the word does not signfy approval of the word.  Am I too old or the
rest of you
too young?  It doesn't seem so very many years ago that the word was more
common, typically for dramatic or illustrative purposes, than it is now.  It
was not
welcome in good society, but its use was not verboten either.  It resided
with words
such as "spic," "kike," and perhaps even some religiously tainted words such
as "G-
damn" (as it sometimes looked when it appeared), which calls to mind "f-k."
Now the
latter two words are more common on film and tv than the "N word" as it is
so often
called in these days.  I recall the latter's infrequent but unapologetic use
on television
dramas and in films, usually to bolster dramatic effect and realism, and I
don't refer
to "All in the Family," which may have broken ground with the use of "God
damn" in
an 8:00 time slot but wasn't the first to utter that phrase on television.
Its use, similar
to "nigger," was seldom, therefore stronger when it was heard.  The word was
approved, but it was said, for instance, in a quotation rather than
substituting "the N-
word" in reporting the utterance as is now done.  It has attained the status
of "sh-t"
from publications of the past (recalling the ending of Faulkner's "Old Man")
and from
lists of words not said in most circles, especially television, news and
and newspapers.  Like the Confederate Battle Flag, its position has sunk
lower in the
last couple of decades.  Perhaps Livy did not object (and we don't know that
didn't) to its usage not because she accepted or approved the word but
because she
realized its dramatic and realistic neccessity in HF.

John H. Davis, Ph.D.
Chowan College
Murfreesboro, NC