Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 15:48:56 +0000 From: Lynne Murphy 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. lynne -- M. Lynne Murphy Assistant Professor in Linguistics Department of English Baylor University PO Box 97404 Waco, TX 76798