Heard on TV

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue Sep 6 16:57:00 UTC 2011

On Sep 6, 2011, at 3:47 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> On Sep 6, 2011, at 4:29 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> On Sep 5, 2011, at 7:17 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>> On Mon, Sep 5, 2011 at 9:08 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>>>> Are black Americans not goyim?
>>> They're niggers. Saying that blacks are "goyim" merely because most
>>> are Christian is like saying that blacks are "Anglos" merely because
>>> they speak English.
>>> Who does that?
>> According to my Mac dictionary and to what my Jewish friends have told me, a goy is a non-Jew; moreover, I am not a Christian, but my Jewish friends refer to me as a goy.
>> Why you have to bring the n-word into this, I do not know, but if there is a reason for not classifying black Americans as goyim, I would be interested to learn about it.
> It's essentially a pragmatic issue.  As explained to me by the late Ellen Prince, if there's a salient specific label for a (non-Jewish) group, they tend not to be called goyim, although that term *can* be used collectively as a superordinate (as when knives and guns are called "weapons", but you wouldn't tend to refer to a specific gun or group of guns as "weapons").  So black people, while not generally "niggers", are indeed not referred to as "goyim" but as "shvartses" (or "shvartsers"?), with the Yiddish (and German) word for 'black'.  Similarly, Chinese are not "goyim" in just that way, they're∑well, whatever the Yiddish word for 'Chinese' is.    There's a very old ads-l post on this that I wrote once, informed by Ellen's judgments.

Thank you for the reference! E-mail 41517 (http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0410A&L=ADS-L&P=R4469&I=-3&d=No+Match%3BMatch%3BMatches):

Of course, under certain circumstances, gentiles/goys may be used in a way so as to exclude others who have more specific designations, as a garden-variety instance of the blocking phenomenon.  (I'd argue that this is a pragmatic narrowing and that technically if x is a non-Jew, x is a gentile/goy.)  Here's one informant judgment, for example, from a while back (Ellen Prince, p.c., 2/22/92); other usages may differ.

"In fact _goy_ is used only for white christians, and only germanic or slavic or celtic ones at that. like an italian is a italyener, a black is a shvartser, a chinese is a khinezer, an indian (either kind) is an indianer, an arab is an araber, a gypsy is a tsigayner, etc. (i even saw a story once about a yid, a goy, un a tsigayner.) to call one of these a goy would be very misleading. goy is, i believe, the kind of goy you hid from, in eastern europe or on the lower east side (back around 1920)."

The tree of life is another appropriate example. You generally don't point to a specific organism and refer to it as anything but the species name.

>> I do appreciate the Anglo reference. I wasn't aware that Anglo had the meaning of white Anglophone.
> Same sort of thing--it's not a question of meaning as such, but of usage.  "Finger" doesn't have the meaning of 'non-thumb digit' (we have 10 fingers, after all--or most of us do), but if you broke your thumb you wouldn't say you broke your finger.

Thank you for that as well. My Mac dictionary says: "a white, English-speaking American as distinct from a Hispanic American"

That makes sense to me (and clarifies why it seems fuzzy)...


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