Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 08:53:44 -0500 From: "Dennis R. Preston" Subject: Re: What does the "n" word mean? (was PC dictionaries) Tom, Would you expand on the meaning of 'sound nasty'? Dennis >On Thu, 30 Oct 1997, STEPHANIE LYNN KIRK wrote: > >> I don't understand how a white person can use the "N" word and it be >> offensive and black people can use this word toward each other and it >> not be offensive. Maybe someone can explain this phenomenon to me. I >> personally do not use this word in any context, but this is something I >> just don't understand. > >People don't usually use slurs on themselves, so the offensive >connotations of the term are stripped when the targets of the term use it. >The terms "Christian" and "Quaker" both originated as slurs, but were >borrowed and defused by the target groups. If a white fellow uses the N >word, history indicates that he probably means it in a racist sense. If >a black fellow uses the N word, a racist meaning would be nearly >impossible. > >Ethnic slurs are not like most other expletives, which sound nasty only >because they sound nasty; ethnic slurs also have specific targets. > >Tom Head >tlh[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] > > >"The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. > What the second duty is, no one has yet discovered." > -- Oscar Wilde Dennis R. Preston Department of Linguistics and Languages Michigan State University East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Office: (517)353-0740 Fax: (517)432-2736