Mudcat Café message #1527060 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #83121   Message #1527060
Posted By: Peter T.
24-Jul-05 - 12:21 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Bascomb Lamar Lunsford
Subject: RE: Folklore: Bascomb Lamar Lunsford
It is certainly difficult to recapture the feel of the way in which people were very comfortable in North America until very recently in referring to people as Wops and Dagos, etc., because people lived in much more closed communities and would use these labels back and forth at each other in a kind of low-level warfare that would sometimes escalate, but was widely accepted as a kind of shorthand. It was like a weapon that everyone had in their arsenal, and part of the game was to give as good as you got.   A classic example was in war movies and war comics, where you had someone from every relevant ethnic group so as to suggest "We are all Americans!", the wop from Brooklyn or whatever. Of course, the default norm was white anglo saxon protestant males, who were the power nexus for it all.   And there are places where it is still widespread (go to a country club anywhere, and wait for five minutes, God knows, I was in one last week, and reasonably educated people were obsessing over increasing immigration, which was ironic, given that virtually all of them were making their living from the boom in real estate!!!!!!!!). But at some point very recently it became unacceptable in public. Thirty years ago people said things quite openly that are completely unacceptable now, things that brand you.

I don't think the anthropology of these shifts in public pressure on language has been studied very much.


Peter T.