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Re: You're raping the language

Posted by ESC on November 06, 2001

In Reply to: You're raping the language posted by Alex on November 06, 2001

: : : : : : : : : : What is meant by the phrase "gypsy's warning"?

: : : : : : : : : The only gypsy warning that I'm familiar with is the one in "The Wolf Man," a 1941 movie. See http://rhs.jack.k12.wv.us/classic/feature/wolfman/wolfsb1.htm

: : : : : : : : gypsy's/gipsy's warning n.1 [mid-19C+] no warning at all. [neg. stereotyping]
: : : : : : : : gypsy's/gipsy's warning n.2 [mid-19C+] morning. [Rhy. sl.]
: : : : : : : : From _Cassell's Dictionary of Slang_ by Jonathon Green

: : : : : : : So, "gypsy's warning" is an ethnic slur along the lines of "Mexican standoff" and "Dutch treat." (Search archives under "standoff" and "treat.")

: : : : : : "Ethnic slur" sounds so harsh... and they are oxymorons,
: : : : : : most obvious examples - Dutch Courage, Military Intelligence,
: : : : : : modern parallels - perhaps the warnings phoned in by terrorists 3 minutes before an attack.

: : : : : Yes, "ethnic slur" is very harsh cause the phrase IS an ethnic slur and an oxymoron it is not.

: : : : : An oxymoron ( Greek: Oxus = "sharp" Moros = "dull" ) is a combination of contradictory or incongruous words such as "jumbo
: : : : : shrimp", "definite maybe", "exact estimate","army intelligence"
: : : : : etc etc.

: : : : : An ethnic slur is the attribution of negative, sarcastic, humiliating and demeaning traits to human beings based on their place of birth, race or creed aka "regional chauvinism".

: : : : : In fact, the English word "gyp" which means to swindle or defraud is derived from Gypsy and "gyp" is an ethnic slur the same as "Gypsy' warning".

: : : : and Dutch Courage is still an oxymoron, since the implication is that the dutch have no courage and hence need it from alcohol, therefore "dutch" and "courage" are incongruous words placed together, as for that matter are "Gypsy" and "warning".

: : : "Ok, I see" sez the blindman.
: : : Hateful oxymora?
: : : I found a dictionary that said an oxymoron:
: : : "..is a wittily paradoxical turn of phrase that appeals to 'unconscious responses instead of rational examinations.'

: : : So I agree with you then that these hate terms could be considered oxymoronic but I see the hate before the wit!

: : Either "gypsy's warning" is both an ethnic slur and an oxymoron, or it is neither. Proof? Here goes: If it's an oxymoron, it qualifies as one by juxtaposing two logically incompatible terms. For the terms "gypsy" and "warning" to be incompatible, the phrase must presume an inconsistency between gypsies and warnings. We all know that warnings are good things. Therefore the problem must be with gypsies--they don't give warnings, or they give false ones, or untimely ones, or whatever. And that premise is the ethnic slur (or, as a reference book cited above calls it, the negative stereotyping). If there is no ethnic slur--that is, if the phrase doesn't imply a blanket attribution of some bad quality to gypsies as a group--then there's no inconsistency between "gypsy" and "warning," and the phrase is not an oxymoron. (In this condition the phrase is also pointless.)

: : The world is currently in a crisis of the utmost severity that began with the same "My group is better than yours" mentality seen in the premise "Gypsies are unreliable." Think about that for a while.

: The study of language is utterly debased if you let trite and quite banal value judgements get in the way of it. What does it serve you to morally judge the 'political correctess' of a phrase? Maybe you'll feel a better person but it's utterly pointless. You have no right to condemn a phrase for the implications you attach to it. The idioms of English have been developing for over a thousand years, and you think it fit to just write whatever you please off as somehow inappropriate... please.....
: And as for your point about the current war, it's reminiscent of another oxymoron - 'gunboat diplomacy'. Perhaps the epithet there is soon to be replaced by 'American'. A few more ethics in foreign policy, and less of the 'might is right' mentality and who knows where the world might be now.

: And if you go back to your history, nationhood has ALWAYS been defined by and taken significance from DIFFERENCE to a real or invented OTHER. It's been a political necessity at least since the Renaissance. But if you want to condemn the whole course of human history that's fine - you can tell us where we all went wrong.

Whether a word or phrase is "usually considered vulgar" or is an "ethnic slur" is information. What you do with that information is your heartache.