Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 11:20:20 EST From: Larry Horn Subject: Re: ADS-L Digest - 27 Oct 1997 to 28 Oct 1997 Ron Rabin writes, >Someone also noted that African American use of nigger reclaimed it, as >did homosexual use of queer. But my sense is that nigger has been used >right along as a general reference term for black man (not black women? >not by black women?) by African Americans for as long as I've heard it >spoken. And you? The someone was me, but I agree with the point: "nigger" has evidently been used by African Americans (although I think there has been a conscious recent reclamation effort too) in a way not quite parallelled by "queer" or other recent reclamation efforts ("hag", "dyke", etc.). >What do we know, historically and a matter of sociolinguistic practice and >lore, about a group themselves using a term neutrally that is used to >label them from outside negatively? We do have the example of "Black >is beautiful" where a group asserts as positive that which is used >as a negative. What I find interesting is that nigger could remain >neutral for black speakers while it exists (and existed) in such a nasty >sense for whites. One candidate for this status that I think doesn't really fit is the Yiddish "yid", referring to a (Jewish) person. This word was around in Yiddish before becoming a pejorative in German and English, I believe. Someone who knows the history can correct me. Larry