slurs (was: Re: camel-toe)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 5 18:42:22 UTC 2009

To the best of my knowledge, "Chinaman" has *always* been right up (or
down) there with "niggerboy," and "Jewboy." I wonder why "Frenchman"
or <har! har!> "German" doesn't fit into this class.

I read somewhere or other that "chink" was originally "Ching," a clip
of "Ching-chong Chinaman." The funnies once featured a parody of
Confucius named "Ching-Chong." According to a long-ago sports-section
article about a Winter Olympics held somewhere in Sweden, the Swedes
cheered on a winning (Red-)Chinese team by chanting (I no longer
recall the exact spelling) "Kjipp-kjopp Kjinamann." The writer of the
article noted that this phrase, which sounds like "Chip-chop
Cheenamon" (according to the writer) is (was? I'm dredging up another
memory probably  more than a quarter-century old, as is so often my
wont) otherwise used in Sweden as a racial slur.


On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 10:53 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: slurs (was: Re: camel-toe)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 11:15 PM -0500 11/4/09, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>BTW, according to tonight's South Park, lexicographers have agreed to
>>redefine "fag(got)" as meaning, roughly, an annoying, noise-making,
>>Harley-riding, loser asshole dying for attention, among other things.
>>There's no longer any necessary correction between faggotry and gayness.
> Speaking of redefinitions:  as part of our look at the semantics of
> ethnic slurs, our seminar was reading a paper on "Pejoratives" by the
> philosopher Christopher Hom, whose stock example is "chink" (vs.
> "Chinese"), presumably because for the same reason that I switched to
> "kike" for our class discussion.  One of the students who was
> unfamiliar with the term opened her computer and looked up "chink" in
> the OED [2d ed., 1989] and discovered that the relevant entry, for
> "Chink", n. 5, reads in its entirety:
> Chink.  slang. A Chinaman (also attrib.).  (Derogatory.)
> "Chinaman" gets two definitions:
> 1. a dealer in porcelain
> 2. a native of China
> Nothing about "derogatory" here. (AHD3/4 actually gives virtually the
> same entry for Chink and Chinaman, with one subtle (and I think
> correct) distinction:
> "Chink"
> Offensive slang. Used as a disparaging term for a Chinese person.
> "Chinaman"
> Offensive. Used as a disparaging term for a Chinese person.
> But how long has it really been since "Chinaman" could be used neutrally?
> LH
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