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Taconicus Politically incorrect songs (113* d) RE: Politically incorrect songs 27 Jan 11


Re the discussion above about the use of the n-word (I can't even write it) in the time of Huckleberry Finn...

It's true that originally it wasn't used derogatorily, although by the time of Clemens it was derogatory, though not as much as today. On the contrary, originally it was a "polite" word used as a substitute for a word that was considered very derogatory, namely the work black. "Enlightened" gentry in the South, most of whom knew Latin, and others, adopted the Latin word niger, which means black, as a more polite word (just as a century later the Spanish word negro, which also means black, would be used as a polite substitute). The n-word is merely the English phonetic spelling of the Latin word niger, since in classical Latin the letter g is always pronounced hard, and the i in niger is short, hence the igg in the English spelling of the word, due to the rules of English phonics.

Interesting that an enlightened person of the 18'th Century might find our referring to human beings as blacks just as offensive as we find their having used the n-word back then, because we're ignorant of the temporal context. Also interesting that although using the totally unrelated word niggardly will get you called a racist, no one finds offensive the name of the African country Niger, though it means exactly the same thing and was named that for the same reason, because due to English phonics we pronounce it nigh-jer.


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