Date: Tue, 18 Oct 1994 09:00:43 EDT
From: David Muschell dmuschel[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MAIL.GAC.PEACHNET.EDU
Subject: Re: offending idioms
A Yankee was originally a derogatory term for a Dutchman ("Jan Cheese"
[though there is disagreement about this]), but the colonists took the slur
on with pride, transforming the nasty "Yankee Doodle Dandy" into a marching
song. The term became negative again during the War of Northern Agression;
then positive during World War I ("the Yanks are coming"), then negative
again during the Civil War Centenniel of 1960-64. Yankee ingenuity has a
positive note, but down here, the negative connotation still exists, though
tempered with humor.
"Honky" seems to have degenerated from "bohunk," a term for "ignorant"
eastern European immigrants from Bohemia and Hungaria (later "hunky" and
adopted by African Americans integrating the deteriorating Harlem. I'd
cite sources but I'm almost late for class and they're all piled in my
closet (the sources, not my students).