Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 21:32:23 -0400


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...