[Ads-l] fellow = black man

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 8 11:38:27 EDT 2017


I wrote about coded slurs in a 2012 Boston Globe column (not sure I would
classify "fellow" as such):

https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2012/07/28/how-did-monday-become-racist-slur-how-did-monday-become-racist-slur/Mf4fQEVcXabGKHFaDMZ4NO/story.html

On Mon, May 8, 2017 at 11:33 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> Maybe it works a bit like “Canadian” does or recently did in parts of the
> South, if memory serves (see our threads on that from a decade or so); it
> might be odd to say “Joe is a Canadian” meaning ‘a black man’ (in the
> relevant setting, but common to say “That Canadian at the corner table
> wants his check” in the same context, with maybe some intonational,
> gestural, or other hint that the specialized meaning is intended.  Of
> course, in the old case Joe really is a fellow, while in the new one he’s
> not a Canadian, but they both involve a contextually specific disguised
> reference that works as an attributive label but not in predications where
> the property of being a “fellow” or “Canadian” is being directly asserted.
>   If so, I don’t know what the word is for this kind of thing.
>
> LH
>
> > On May 8, 2017, at 11:20 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> wrote:
> >
> > I don't see "fellow" as a full synonym. Could one say, for example,
> >
> > ?Joe is a fellow.
> >
> > and be understood as meaning he's a black man?
> >
> > Is there a word for this kind of thing (apart from "partial synonymy")?
> >
> > JL
> >
> > On Mon, May 8, 2017 at 10:32 AM, Joan Hall <jdhall at wisc.edu> wrote:
> >
> >> DARE has one additional example:
> >> 1842 Buckingham Slave States<http://www.daredictionary.com/
> >> bibliography?letterHeading=B#bibl_9915> 2.29 SC,<
> >> http://www.daredictionary.com/search?f_0=reglabel&q_0=SC> The men are
> >> usually called "boys," whatever may be their age; and very often
> "fellows."
> >>
> >>
>

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list