chink in the armor

David A. Daniel dad at POKERWIZ.COM
Fri Aug 2 13:30:24 UTC 2013

OK, at the risk of getting smacked down for all sorts of social offenses,
here goes: Sometime between 20 and 40 years ago (best guess is mid-80's) I
made up a joke (yes, totally made it up from scratch which means I am of
even worse character than if I had simply heard it and passed it on) that
goes thusly: In the days of old, at grand international jousting
tournaments, when all the knights were riding around lancing each other, how
could you tell which one was the Chinese knight? Of course, everyone now
knows the answer: There's always a chink in his armor. Given my history with
this joke, and given that it has always been met by groans and guffaws and
instant recognition (that is, I have never, ever had a case of "huh?" from a
native English speaker), I consider it highly unlikely that the commentator,
in referring to Murdock's wife's divorce case, did not know exactly what he
was saying and the implications thereof, but figured he was couching it in
terms he could get away with.

Footnote: I think this was probably mid-80's because at that time I wrote a
bunch of songs with my friend Gary (you can find the 1987 copyrights at the
Library of Congress), one of which was called "Honky Talk," the chorus of
which goes like this:

We got wops and frogs and polacks,
We got slopes and gooks and chinks,
We got niggers, spicks and beaners
In greater quantities than you think.
We got micks and krauts and limeys,
We got kikes and ragheads too,
And the only thing that we ain't got
Is a name for me and you.

If I left anyone out let me know. Unfortunately, the recording of this has
been lost to the mists of time. One of the other songs from the time,
though, is on You Tube and can be seen here, if anyone is interested: It's called "Militant Smokers of
America" - I'm the one in the hat.

Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: chink in the armor

"You people"?

My point is that this is an expression that is used precisely in this
context (to the point of becoming cliche). So, the language must change
in response to the ethnic identity of one of the subjects of the news
story? Even though the two homophones are unrelated in origin? More to
the point, without any actual evidence of malintent, is there any reason
for the association to make a stink? It's really weak tea IMO.

We've had flare-ups over bogus etymology of "handicapped" and
"niggardly", among others. I'm not in favor of that list growing.


On 8/1/2013 11:51 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 3:54 AM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>
>> I see no reason to suspect any untoward intent.
> You people never do. After all, since the use of the word, innocent or
> not, never has any reference whatever to you,
> I'm not going to bother to complete this.
> --
> -Wilson

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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