[Ads-l] Racist origins of "Grandfathering"

Dennis During dcduring at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 18 19:29:45 EST 2020


Think 'Freedom fries', 'niggardly' etc.

On Fri, Dec 18, 2020 at 7:06 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Wasn't it the law that was racist, by whatever name it might have had, and
> not the chosen name itself?
>
> The name itself is thematically relevant to other, non-racist laws or
> rules for non-racist reasons, isn't it?
>
> Is any word once sullied by one bad usage useless for any other purpose?
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Dennis During <dcduring at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Friday, December 18, 2020 3:02:19 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Re: Racist origins of "Grandfathering"
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dennis During <dcduring at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Racist origins of "Grandfathering"
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> The racist origins of the term were completely whitewashed from my
> understanding of its meaning. I hope we can find a substitute.
>
> According to the Wikipedia article on "Grandfather clause":
>
> There is also a rather different, older type of *grandfather clause*,
> perhaps more properly a *grandfather principle* in which a government blots
> out transactions of the recent past, usually those of a predecessor
> government. The modern analogue may be repudiating public debt, but the
> original was Henry II <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_II_of_England
> >'s
> principle, preserved in many of his judgments, "Let it be as it was on the
> day of my grandfather's death", a principle by which he repudiated all the
> royal grants that had been made in the previous 19 years under King Stephen
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_of_Blois>.[5]
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandfather_clause#cite_note-5>
>
> But that doesn't carry over to the sense in question.
>
> "Grandfather clauses" are used to prevent laws from being ex post facto
> laws.  I hope delegitimizing the term "grandfather" in this sense does not
> legitimiza ex post facto laws.
>
>
> On Fri, Dec 18, 2020 at 3:23 PM Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:
>
> > I thought I had previously posted on grandfathering, but I can't
> > immediately find it in the archives.
> >
> > The conventional history of the verb "to grandfather," which appears to
> be
> > essentially correct, is that it arose in connection with restrictive
> voting
> > laws that were intended to disenfranchise African-Americans, but included
> > conditions intended to prevent the disenfranchisement of white voters,
> such
> > as a provision that voters would not be disenfranchised if their
> > grandfathers were voters.  While I have not confirmed the existence of
> > provisions specifically referencing grandfathers, the historical
> existence
> > of these restrictive voting laws is well-documented, and the intent to
> > disenfranchise African-Americans is explicit, not in the text of the laws
> > themselves, of course, but in the public discussions at the time.
> > Geoffrey's link, which focuses on the laws rather than on the term, gives
> > more information about them.
> >
> > However, it should be understood that the term as originally used was
> > intended to be critical of restrictive voting laws.  Here's the earliest
> I
> > initially see, which is a 43-year antedating of the earliest example in
> the
> > OED.  From the Henryetta (Okla.) Free-Lance (Sept. 23, 1910)
> > (Newspapers.com):
> >
> > "There is a certain amount of justice in the world that cannot be
> entirely
> > destroyed, even in Oklahoma.  A Tulsa judge has decided that negroes who
> > have been "grandfathered" out of their franchise cannot be made to pay
> poll
> > tax.  That amendment will cost the republican party a few votes, and the
> > state of Oklahoma $80,000 in poll tax."
> >
> > Note that, at the time, African-Americans tended to align with the
> > Republican party, so it was primarily Democrats who sought to restrict
> the
> > vote on racial lines for partisan reasons - a reversal of the current
> > environment.  Here is another early example of the term, also critical of
> > it, as the use of "Jim Crow" shows.  From the (Ardmore, Okla.) Daily
> > Ardmoreite (July 29, 1920) (NewspaperArchive), in a letter to the editor:
> >
> > "In your "Stories of the Street" on July 28 you publish the following:
> > "Sam Butler, local attorney and prominent republican politician, with
> > democratic proclivities, was displaying the first Harding button the
> > streets of the city today."
> > "Now, Mr. Editor:  I want to denounce Red Snider for writing me up like
> > that.  He knows as well as anyone that I am a Registered, Grandfathered
> and
> > Jim Crowed Republican, and I don't like to be slandered that way.
> > Very truly,
> > Sam H. Butler"
> >
> > Note that both of these are from Oklahoma, which may be indicative of the
> > term's geographic origin.
> >
> > In its current use, grandfather, v., is entirely devoid of racial
> > implications.  In addition, it's a very handy word, with no equivalent
> term
> > that so succinctly expresses the intent that a new statute or regulation
> > will not cause those already operating in reliance on the pre-existing
> rule
> > to lose their ability to do so.
> >
> >
> > John Baker
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of
> > Geoffrey Nathan
> > Sent: Friday, December 18, 2020 2:01 PM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Subject: Re: Racist origins of "Grandfathering"
> >
> > External Email - Think Before You Click
> >
> >
> > There are, on Facebook (and probably elsewhere) lists of such
> > words with 'racist' origins that we are encouraged to stop using.
> > Some of them are the usual etymythologies, but, as far as I can
> > tell, this one is real. However, its actual origins seem to be
> > contested. Some argue it has to do with state laws in the South
> > that said only those whose grandfathers could vote were
> > allowed to vote. However, there is evidence it predates
> > Reconstruction, and originated in the North:
> >
> > https://n.pr/3nCgD4s<https://n.pr/3nCgD4s>
> >
> > Now, the question of whether we should not use words
> > because of what they meant over a century ago is a different
> > question from whether the etymology is correct...
> >
> > For instance, the etymology of 'black' is an Indo-European root
> > meaning 'glow, burn', but no current native speaker of English
> > knows that, nor are they subconsciously invoking the original
> > meaning.
> >
> > That, however, is probably a question for the sociolinguists
> > and psycholinguists among us.
> >
> > Geoff
> >
> > Geoffrey S. Nathan
> > WSU Information Privacy Officer (Retired)
> > Emeritus Professor, Linguistics Program
> > https://clasprofiles.wayne.edu/profile/an6993<
> > https://clasprofiles.wayne.edu/profile/an6993>
> > geoffnathan at wayne.edu<mailto:geoffnathan at wayne.edu>
> >
> > From: Bill Mullins<mailto:amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM>
> > Sent: Friday, December 18, 2020 12:09 PM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU<mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU<mailto:
> > ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU%3cmailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>>
> > Subject: Racist origins of "Grandfathering"
> >
> > [EXTERNAL]
> >
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU<mailto:
> > ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>>
> > Poster: Bill Mullins <amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM<mailto:amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM
> >>
> > Subject: Racist origins of "Grandfathering"
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >
> >
> https://greensboro.com/news/education/wake-schools-will-stop-using-the-term=
> > <
> >
> https://greensboro.com/news/education/wake-schools-will-stop-using-the-term=
> > >
> >
> >
> -grandfathering-because-it-has-racist-origins/article_478ba8fc-3664-11eb-9a=
> > 49-3706dfbe2e2b.html
> >
> > News to me.
> >
> > OED has 1953 for the relevant sense.
> >
> > 4. transitive. North American. To exempt from new legislation or
> > regulation=
> > s, usually because of some prior condition of previously existing
> > privilege=
> > . Frequently with in (also with into, out). Also in extended use.
> >
> > 1953 Kentucky Revised Statutes 2190/2 All certificates or permits grand=
> > fathered shall be subject to the same limitations and restrictions.
> >
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> >
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>
>
> --
> Dennis C. During
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 
Dennis C. During

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


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