"Nigga" untrademarkable?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 17 05:20:06 UTC 2006

I'd expect that a person telling such a story would use the friendly, [nIg@]
pronunciation, since the context would be enough to supply the unfriendly,
[nIgr] pronunciation.

The black guy that I heard say [nIgr] was that rarity, a native of Los
Angeles, though his parents were from Alabama. In those days, pre-Watts
Riots, BE speakers living in the Wilshire District - once known as "the
black Beverlly Hills" (the neighborhood was so upscale, compared to what we
were accustomed to in St. Louis, that my stepfather remarked that he had had
no idea that there was anywhere in the United States that colored people
were permitted to live so well) when blacks were not allowed to live in the
real Beverly Hills, but now known as "Little Korea" - spoke a dialect that
was much closer to sE than that spoken in, e.g. St. Louis, thanks, IMO, to a
much greater degree of scholastic (e.g. my friend was a graduate of the same
high school that Ray Bradbury attended), if not necessarily social,
integration. In fact, L.A. blacks, to my then-uneducated ear, didn't sound
especially different from white St. Louisans. I, OTOH, was frequently asked
by local blacks to repeat myself, even when I was using the highest register
of St. Louis black-bourgeoisie BE.


On 3/16/06, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Nigga" untrademarkable?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 12:25 AM -0500 3/16/06, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >FWIW, I've heard "nigger" pronounced as [nIgr] by only one black person
> in
> >my entire life. It gave me the same creeps that hearing it pronounced by
> a
> >white person would have.
> Would this include mention as opposed to use, e.g. if the black
> person X is reporting that some (non-black) Y had just called X (or
> Z) a [nIgr]?  Just wondering...
> LH
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