Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 07:27:04 -0500
From: Natalie Maynor maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]RA.MSSTATE.EDU
Subject: P.S. re Offending Idioms
I was sitting here thinking about my previous posting, the one saying
that I'd never heard anybody use the word "nigger," when it occurred to
me that that's not entirely accurate. I did hear the expression "nigger
rig" when I was a small child. And I remember being surprised when I
realized that it was an offensive expression -- that the word "nigger"
was part of it. Keep in mind that I was very young at the time (and
that "nigger" was not a word in my active vocabulary). When I heard
"nigger rig," I heard it as one long, funny-sounding verb: niggerrig.
I can't remember now exactly how I discovered "nigger" in it. I think
maybe I repeated the word at home and my mother pointed out to me what
I was saying. Presumably I would have figured it out myself sooner or
later, but this brings up a question that I think was implicit in something
I said earlier in this discussion. I wonder how many offensive idioms
are kept alive by people who don't realize what they're saying. I also
remember hearing the expression "jew down" and not associating it with
Judaism. The language is full of homonyms. Although these two examples
are of expressions that are pretty easy to figure out if you're over
eight years old, I wonder how many other expressions are floating around
out there that are based on insults not so easily recognizable. And does
that make them less offensive?
--Natalie (maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ra.msstate.edu)