Posted by Lewis on December 16, 2004
In Reply to: The question posted by Nikhilesh sinha on December 15, 2004
: Well, another word that is similar in many ways is 'chinky'. This is often used by people of Asian origin, but would be considered extremely politically incorrect if used by people of another community.
: I think what often happens is that a word that is used offensively as a derogatory phrase to refer to a particular groupp of people, over a period of time gets adopted by that community. So when used by a member of that goup is self-ironic, whereas when used by outsiders is still deemed offensive.
: It could perhaps be compared to the situation where a citizen of a country is quite happy criticizing his or her own country and its people, but would become extremely defensive if these same views were expressed by an outsider.
I had only ever heard 'chinky' used for a Chinese meal, not of a person, so I was astounded when somebody rebuked me for saying that I might 'get a chinky in' - meaning fetch a Chinese Takeaway - I have had quite a few Chinese/Hong Kong friends over the years and never experienced racism/heard about racsim directed at them. Is 'chinky' used in a derogatory way as a widespread term of abuse? As I say, I had only heard it referring to a takeaway, never a person. I have been careful about when I have used that expression since, but I would like to reclaim it as an acceptable word for a Chinese takeaway, but if not, then c'est la vie.