Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 21:32:23 -0400
From: PPATRICK[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]GUVAX.BITNET
Subject: Re: offending idiot
Most ADS-L readers probably don't need the reference, but in 1991
American Speech ran two excellent articles on the subject of terms
of group self-reference by African Americans (or "American Slave
Descendants" in Baugh's neutral term), by Geneva Smitherman and John
Baugh. Baugh's article gives a detailed breakdown of preferences by
age among ASD for such terms as "black, colored, negro, nigger" etc.
It's quite evident from this that "nigger" is not a neutral term for
anyone in the African American community today.
As a Yankee-born (NYC, 1959) but Southern-bred (Virginia in
1690 was as far north as my mother's family line lived, and mostly in
Georgia since) WM who has lived about equally in the South and
Northeast, I don't know a single white Southerner who doesn't realize
that "nigger" is an offensive term when used by whites. I don't think
linguists have much business making excuses for the use of offensive
terms, especially when the research on attitudes is so clear-cut.
And by the way, I would hate to see this list be a place where
"Southern" is equated with "racist" casually and thoughtlessly, as it
so often is in discourse among non-Southerners and foreigners. White
Southerners have a lot of history to be ashamed of, and most of us
are, but there's a tremendous anti-Southern prejudice out there too
which most Yankees remain comfortably ignorant of and complacent about...