"call a spade a spade"

Doug Harris cats22 at FRONTIERNET.NET
Wed Jun 18 22:23:40 UTC 2008

The "original premise" was, in fact, said with tongue tucked firmly in
Nevertheless, it lead to an interesting discussion. And included at least
one suggestion that, by gum, has got to be about as plumb unamurican as
could be: The idea that there's some way someone could mean something
mean or nasty or mean AND nasty by the word 'picnic'.
'Almost as bad at being agin' apple pie, which even them romany gypsies
weren't, if stories from olden days are to be believed, 'bout them stealin'
such pies off'n winder sills an' such like.

I've been following this thread kind of at arm's length because the
entire initial premise was false, i.e., that the spade thing is racial. To
call a spade a spade just means to tell it like it is and has, apparently,
since at least the 17th century. That some people are going to think it is
racist is, as pointed out above, on the same level as thinking that
"niggard" and "niggardly" are racist. Misinterpretation is a wonderful
thing. I wonder: if you have two CIA spies, one of them white and one of
them black, only the white one is a spook?

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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