Date: Tue, 18 Oct 1994 09:00:43 EDT


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).