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.

Jesse Sheidlower