Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Sep 7 00:23:02 UTC 2008

At 2:45 PM -0700 9/6/08, Susan Tamasi wrote:
>I'm trying to do some research on the word "uppity" and it's racial
>>>From yesterday's TheHill.com: "Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn
>>Westmoreland is standing by his statement that Barack Obama is
>>'uppity,' claiming that he has never heard of the term being
>used in a 'racially derogatory sense'."
>Having grown up in the South, I've always known (or felt) that
>"uppity" is derogatory when used to describe an African American.
>The term "uppity nigger" definitely rings in my ears when I
>hear the word. When I heard of Westmoreland's gaff, I almost choked.
>However, in conversations with other white folk over the last couple
>of days, it seems that this connotation is only
>known by about half. Some claim that it is a neutral term which
>simply refers to "snobby" or "elite", as Westmoreland claims.
>I'm trying to figure out how widespread the "racially derogatory
>sense" actually is as well as when "uppity" took on this
>connotation. I have some ideas, but I wanted to your get your
>Susan Tamasi
P.S.  And of course Obama can't criticize Westmoreland for the usage,
because that would be "playing the race card".

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

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