Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 10:36:05 -0800
From: Audrey Wright awright[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SEACCD.SCCD.CTC.EDU
Subject: Re: afterthought on braids
I wonder if the reference could also be "culturally" determined, or even
"politically" determined. For instance, my mother was a cosmetologists.
In her usage, 'braids' and 'pigtails' would never overlap in meaning.
Pigtails stick out from a single point, and do not have the connotation
of even attempting to be 'hair sculpture' while braids (which can include
hairwrapping) usually with the intent of providing a creative style, i.e.
hairsculpturing. Politically speaking perhaps, I know enough women, who
feel that what happened to Bo Derek and her 'braids' was such an insult
to African/African American women that they would never, never refer to
her style and 'braids'.
Personally, I have been wearing 'braids' for more than 20 years. I know
of no one who would call them pigtails.
On Sun, 20 Nov 1994, M. Lynne Murphy wrote:
when people say "braids" they usually mean braided pigtails (a la
pippi longstocking?) because that's the prototypical way (in u.s.
culture, at least) of wearing braids (plural). but i could say "bo
derek had her hair in braids" or "...wore braids" meaning cornrows as
well, if the context allowed it. i do think, though that "braids"
have to hang. so, if you had someone with a cornrowed style that
stayed close to the scalp, i'd say that their hair is "braided" not
that it's in "braids". (however, "braided" can be used for hanging
braids as well.)
i would not be at all surprised to learn that in addition to (or
instead of) regional differences, one would find gender differences
in the interpretation of these words. i know i've had arguments w/
men from the same region about their use of hairstyle names that i
didn't believe were accurate descriptions. (things like: him: if
you're hot, put your hair in pigtails. me: pigtails are for kids.
him: you always wear a pigtail. me: that's a ponytail, there's a
M. Lynne Murphy e-mail: 104lyn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]muse.arts.wits.ac.za
Lecturer, Dept. of Linguistics phone: 27(11)716-2340
University of the Witwatersrand fax: 27(11)716-8030
Johannesburg 2050 South Africa