Posted by Bob on August 08, 2005
In Reply to: Derogatory Epithets posted by R. Berg on August 08, 2005
: : : : : : : : : : : dinner is judged by desserts
: : : : : : : : : : I've never heard that one. But I am guessing that it means that the end, results or conclusion of something is how it is judged.
: : : : : : : : : Or the last impression is the one that lasts. I have never heard it either. It sounds a little dodgy. SS
: : : : : : : : Could this possibly be "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" translated into another language and back again by a computer - one of those "Chinese whispers" phrases? VSD
: : : : : : : What's a Chinese whisper? SS
: : : : : : "Chinese whispers" is the name used in England for the game called Telephone or Gossip in the U.S. Apparently there are no persons of Chinese descent in England, or British Caucasians don't mind offending them. ~rb
: : : : : See link
: : : : Note US spelling!
: : : Using negative ethnic or gender characteristics as metaphors such as "Chinese fire drill", "Mexican showdown," "Indian giver" or "Chinaman's chance" can lead to prejudice and hate.
: : : These are derogatory epithets which show a cultural and or geographical chauvinism.
: : : All those types of phrases, whether about Mexicans, Chinese, Poles etc, put the speaker above everyone else and try to show that these other people are inferior.
: : In my childhood in 1960s England "Chinese Whispers" was the universal name for that game; till today I never knew any other name for it. I honestly don't think it was derogatory in intention. At that at that time there were scarcely any Chinese in Britain outside the sea ports, so most people had never seen a real live Chinese person. But we as kids knew that Chinese was written vertically rather than horizontally and in whole words rather than an alphabet; the point of the game after all is that phrases mutate during the game into a mysterious, encrypted, different language, and Chinese writing was the most encrypted kind of language we could imagine. That's certainly what the name conveyed to me as a child. (VSD)
: VSD, the interpretation you made of the name was consistent with being a word person in embryo, highly involved with language, including written language. I suspect that whoever named the game had in mind something less benign. A stereotype of the Chinese as "inscrutable" prevailed; it can be found in 19th-century literature. In the game, an utterance starts as sensible and ends as mixed up and incomprehensible. The phrase "Chinese fire drill" has the same connotation of chaos and meaninglessness.
So the followup question really becomes: now that we know the term can cause offence, do we cease to use it? Call the game something else, never refer to the woodpile, rename the fire drill, refrain from using the word "niggardly" even though its origins involve no racial reference? My answer would be Yes, since I aspire (but have not yet succeeded) to become a gentleman, one definition of which is someone who never unintentionally hurts another's feelings. (!)