Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 09:43:15 -0800


Subject: Re: PC Dictionaries?

On Tue, 28 Oct 1997, STEVE ALLEN NOLDEN wrote:

I am a Black man, not African-American, and the use of the word "Nigger"

or shall I say the definition of the word, in the Merriam dictionary

greatly offends me. Who gave them the right to define any one person or

race. Is the publisher of Merriam God. Nope.

Of course Merriam-Webster is not God: this is precisely the reason why it

cannot define a word in whatever way it pleases. God might change

language; a dictionary cannot. A dictionary records language; it has no

power to determine or change it.

So what gives him the

right to call me a "Nigger."

M-W is not "calling" anyone anything. It is truthfully recording the

(unfortunate) fact that some speakers of American English do in fact use

the term to refer to black people in a derogatory manner. Pretending

otherwise would be dishonest and would not change the fact that the usage


Peter McGraw