God in the deatils (1960)

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Thu Jan 27 01:40:19 UTC 2005

On Jan 26, 2005, at 5:33 PM, sagehen wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Re: God in the deatils (1960)
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
>  Wilson Gray writes:
>>> I associated that "devil" with the (mega-unPC) proverbial "n*gger in
>>> the  woodpile", the hidden problem that will cause trouble if not
>>> sought
>>> out and  eliminated.
>> Interesting! I've always assumed that this saying meant only that a
>> person purporting to be of pure European(-American) ancestry was
>> suspected of hiding African(-American) ancestry.
> ~~~~~~~~~
> There was some discussion of this expression on ADS-L  several years
> ago
> (perhaps the archives  could be consulted) in which it appeared that
> quite
> a few people understood its meaning to be as you describe. Most of them
> were young enough that their experience of its use was probably
> literary or
> at least second-hand.  Only us old farts knew the real skinny.  But
> here
> you are, one of us (OF), and had the same idea.  Was this understanding
> general among blacks of your generation?
> A. Murie

Yes, it is. That it might have some other meaning is a possibility that
has caught me completely by surprise. I've consulted my brother and a
few old - no pun intended - friends and they agree with me. We know
only the "passing-for-white" meaning and the 'hidden-problem" meaning
is one that none of us has come across before.

-Wilson Gray

More information about the Ads-l mailing list