Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 12:53:32 -0600 From: "Albert E. Krahn" Subject: The "n" word and M-W Collegiate Dict At 12:29 PM 10/28/97 -0500, you wrote: >>From Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, p. 19a >(Explanatory Notes), Order of Senses: "The order of senses within an >entry is historical: the sense known to have been first used in >English is entered first." > >>From the definition of "nigger": "1: a black person -- usu. taken to >be offensive 2: a member of any dark-skinned race -- usu. taken to >be offensive 3: a member of a socially disadvantaged class of >persons the people who feel left out of the political process -- Ron Dellums> > _usage_ _Nigger_ in senses 1 and 2 can be found in the works of such >writers of the past as Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain, and Charles >Dickens, but it now ranks as perhaps the most offensive and >inflammatory racial slur in English. Its use by and among blacks is >not always intended or taken as offensive, but, except in sense 3, it >is otherwise a word expressive of racial hatred and bigotry." ----------------------- ----------------------- This is indeed what is in this dictionary, and it is clearly incomplete. For example, the final sentence is far too weak. The expression "not always intended or taken as offensive" is misleading. I have often heard blacks use the "n" word as a term of friendship or even endearment among themselves. That aspect is not adequately dealt with above. The positive use of (otherwise negative) epithets is common to other groups as well. On another score, the M-W does include a mention of people who have "reduced pigmentation" under "white" (1348) and something about people under "yellow" (1371). Also, I have heard blacks use the word "white" with a clearly derogatory meaning. There is no mention of this under "white." Perhaps this deserves a usage note, too. (:) What it all boils down to is context: We need to know who is speaking to whom -- and much more -- to discover what meaning might be intended. akra krahna[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Al Krahn Milwaukee Area Technical College 700 W. State St. Milwaukee WI 53233 414/ w297-6519 fax297-7990