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?