Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 10:10:41 -0500
From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM
Subject: Re: PC Dictionaries?
DARE has evidence, both written and oral, of the use of "nigger" to refer to
"any person perceived as uncouth, immoral, or threatening, regardless of
skin color." It is used especially frequently by Black speakers. See sense
I find this particular issue one of the more interesting ones in the
discussion. We also have this sense in RHHDAS (sense 3, "Now esp. Black
E. a reprehensible person (of any race); lout; (used as a coarse term of
contempt)."), with written and oral citations.
However, one could make the claim that few or none of these examples
truly represent this sense in free use. Many of our examples, and
those in DARE, consist of black speakers simply denying that "nigger"
means 'a black person' and claiming that it means 'a reprehensible
person'. Even the examples using it in context--for instance, Chris
Rock's now famous "Black people vs. niggers" sketch ("There's a civil
war going on between black people and niggers....You can't go to the
movies because there's niggers shooting at the screen")--do not use
it in a race-neutral manner.
While I think this sense probably does exist, it is nowhere near as
common as it is claimed to be.
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com