Date: Wed, 26 Oct 1994 01:25:24 -0500

From: Charles F Juengling juen0001[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]GOLD.TC.UMN.EDU

Subject: Re: offending idioms

Does anyone know when the word 'nigger' became derogatory in meaning in

the US? Kluge reports that the term has been in America since the end

of the 18th century. There are (at least) two words in German for 'Black

person'-- 'Schwarze', which is an adjectival noun formed from the German

word meaning 'black'; and 'Neger'. What's interesting is that 'Neger'

carries with it absolutely no negative connotations whatsoever. (Many of my

students don't believe this and refuse to say the word). The word

'Neger' has been German since at least the beginning of the 17th century

and came from French. Given the Spanish meaning and that the German has

no negative connotation, it seems that the derogatory meaning developed

in ?American? English, and rather late at that. Can anyone shed any

light on this?

Fritz Juengling