Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 09:43:15 -0800
From: Peter McGraw pmcgraw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]LINFIELD.EDU
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