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Seeing red

Posted by Silver Surfer on October 21, 2002

In Reply to: Seeing red posted by Shae on October 20, 2002

: : : : : : : : : At A recent tutorial the speaker was chastised by a member of the study group for using the phrase"Black Mark" as it was thought that this phrase had racist conotations. Can any one tell me the history of this phrase ??

: : : : : : : : I don't think so. It was it the British radio programme 'Take It From Here' with Jimmy Edwards and June Whitfield. - "Black Mark, Bentley.' I doubt if it is meant to be racist.

: : : : : : : When you talk out of turn in class, the teacher puts a black mark (pencil lead is black or dark gray) beside your name in the grade book. That's all the history I know. I couldn't find the phrase in any of my references.

: : : : : : The color black had long been associated with darkness and evil--witches and their black cats, the bad guys' hats in cowboy movies, Darth Vader and the Dark Side of the Force etc.
: : : : : : Blackmail? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe someone knows the whole nine on blackmail.
: : : : : : But then again how about the phrase "in the black" which has positive aspects accounting-wise.
: : : : : : Go figure!

: : : : : Whereas racism is of course utterly contemptible, there's a growing trend on both sides of the Atlantic towards overly zealous political correctness in language - people are so desperate not to offend or be seen as prejudiced in any way that they're busily castrating the English language. When I was at school, and got bad grades on certain work, my teachers as standard used to mark them in black ink - and similarly good grades in red ink. There's no racial implication at all. I've heard similar fanaticism directed at blackmail, blackguard, nitty-gritty (see previous discussion in the archives) and most shocking of all was the instance of the American politician or lawyer - I forget which - who was forced into resigning for using the word "[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy]rdly" to describe some budget proposal.

: : : : : Sometimes you just have to despair...

: : : :
: : : : Surely you aren't suggesting you ever got a bad grade?

: : :
: : : In the US, errors are marked in red. I had a teacher once who threatened to make our papers "bleed".

: : And nobody but a teacher could have a red pen.

: The original query is a prime example of PC-itis taken to the extreme. So, the Black Forest should be renamed the 'Woodland of the Native Germanic Peoples?' How should 'Black Forest Gateau' be described on a menu? Every geography book would have to be re-written to change the 'Black Sea' to 'The Totally-light-absorbant Sea!' Jaysus!!

In my school days red ink was feared as it indicated mistakes and black/blue ink was benign.

Black probably acquire it's status because in those far off days before street lighting when we walked abroad with only starlight/moonlight to illuminate your way at night a person intent on thieving/murdering etc. etc. would dress in black to blend into the night. However, on the political correctness front I recently watched the film Dambusters - made almost 60 years ago -and, even though Guy Gibson's dog [word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy] got killed as usual, in this cut of the film nobody actually spoke the dog's name.

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