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]