05 September, 2002

Double-plus-ungood

In Wilmington, NC, a 4th grade teacher was reprimanded for using the word niggardly in her class. The complaint is that "it sounds similar to a racial slur."


Similar to a racial slur?! There are a lot of words that sound similar to nigger. Hell, there are a lot of words that sound similar to cunt, fag, kike, and chink. As crazy as it sounds, some of those words I've just listed have other meanings, besides the offensive. Shall we take all words with the potential to offend out of common usage as well?

Bear with me, because I'm about to get a bit radical. But let's see what the dictionary has to say about these words:


Main Entry: nig-gard-ly
Pronunciation: -lE
Function: adjective
Date: 1571 (emphasis added)
1 : grudgingly mean about spending or granting : BEGRUDGING
2 : provided in meanly limited supply

Main Entry: nig-ger
Pronunciation: 'ni-g&r
Function: noun
Etymology: alteration of earlier neger, from Middle French negre, from Spanish or Portuguese negro, from negro black, from Latin niger
Date: 1700 (emphasis added)
1 usually offensive, see usage paragraph below : a black person
2 usually offensive, see usage paragraph below : a member of any dark-skinned race
3 : a member of a socially disadvantaged class of persons <it's time for somebody to lead all of America's niggers... all the people who feel left out of the political process -- Ron Dellums>


Notice that the word niggardly is older by about 129 years. Now, I'm not trying to encourage people to go around, using words offensively. (Although if they want to, that's their own issue.) What I'm saying is, stop being such whinging, PC-Nazis about the language, and let us use the words in an appropriate manner. Given the meaning of niggardly, the teacher (or, more specifically, the literature she was teaching from), could have used the word Scotch instead. (Look at Scotch [1, adjective] for what I'm talking about.)

Oops, I used the word Nazi. That's probably offensive, huh?

3 comments:

  1. strike another blow for the anti-niggardly lobby. remember when the DC official got canned for using the term back in 1998/9? (if not, here's a nice link to the story -- and others like it.)

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  2. Yeah, the article I posted mentioned that one. As well as the fact that Williams re-hired the aide later on.

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  3. This posting was offensive!

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