Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 15:48:56 +0000

From: Lynne Murphy M_Lynne_Murphy[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]BAYLOR.EDU

Subject: Re: What does the "n" word mean? (was PC dictionaries)

on whether the 'n' word has a racial meaning in african-american

usage: there's an essay by gloria naylor about this in the 7th

edition of _language awareness_ (ed. by eschholz, clark & rosa 1997).

she writes about knowing the word long before she knew it as a racial

slur, but the first time she heard it used in such a way, she

recognized its speaker's intentions exactly. she also talks about

how, in her dialect, it's respectful in the singular ("one fine

n---"), but a put-down in the plural ("just a bunch of n---s"). it

started up a nice discussion about plural vs. singular labeling in my

freshman class (e.g., why do many women not want to be "a good guy",

but do want to be "one of the guys"?)

words don't hurt people; only people can hurt people.



M. Lynne Murphy

Assistant Professor in Linguistics

Department of English

Baylor University

PO Box 97404

Waco, TX 76798