phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy]s, Spades and Darkies (plus Pakis & Chinkies)

Posted by Lewis on January 19, 2004

In Reply to: Another example of the "S" word posted by Word Camel on January 15, 2004

: : : According to this article, a principal, who is white, has been reassigned for saying (I assume) the [word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy] while lecturing students about name-calling.

: : :

: :
: : :::: This is one on a number of examples of the increasing political correctness in the US which has the effect of chilling expression and removing the ability to even discuss certain issues. There is now a lack of tolerance from segments of the society, where, as a country, we made our greatest strides by increasing tolerance, and open discussion. Hopefully this is just a passing phase, and good sense will finally prevail. I'm an optimist, and hope it happens.

: "Stupidity", that is. :)

all those words could cause offence. However, I can't see how it could be offensive to explain to children - who soak up unacceptable words quicker than permissible ones - that some words are deeply offensive. I'm pale skinned, as Celts often are, but I can see that '[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy]' is particularly offensive because it is a de-personalised word coming from 'negro' which was used by English-speaking white folks to denote a slave. Even though some of my ancestors were probably slaves under thrall to the Romans, then the Danes and finally the Normans - there is no word that is used exclusively of white people to remind them of their past as subservient and owned beings.

However, it is up to Afro-origin people to determine whether '[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy]' and 'negro' are offensive - they can choose to re-claim the words, especially 'negro' which is simply latinate for 'black'. '[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy]' would be more difficult, as I don't think it was ever used in a positive way.

Offensive or not, words exist and cannot be unmade, so it is better to tell the children that using '[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy]' causes offence and will not be tolerated than to pretend such words don't exist.

In Britain, we have the 'Paki' debate - is 'Paki' offensive or simply descriptive?

After all, 'Paki' is only a shortened word for 'Pakistani' and if used accurately should not be any more offensive than 'Brummie. However, it has acquired a dismissive tone, so it is generally thought offensive.

Ever since school, I have had Chinese friends, yet I often called having a Chinese take-away a 'chinkie', never associating the word 'chinkie' with a person, only a type of meal.
I got told off by somebody (not any of my Chinese friends) for calling the take-away 'a chinkie'. Thinking about it, if the expression were used about a person of Chinese background that too would probably be construed as offensive - yet it does not carry any negative connotations, so far as I am aware. So far as I am concerned 'chinkie' is restricted to take-aways.

If I go to a restaurant, I might choose between Indian, Chinese (not 'chinkie'), Thai, French or Italian cuisine - yet 'Indian' is inaccurate as to be truthful more 'Indian' restaurants are run by Bengalis than Indians - and quite a few by Pakistanis. We use the generic description 'Indian' to cover the cuisine of a whole region without offence being taken, yet offence is taken over what appear to be lesser errors.

I suppose accurate use of language is the answer.