Squaw Daffiness (sociolinguistics)

Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Mon Sep 15 19:14:34 UTC 2003

Place names containing the word ‘squaw’ are numerous throughout the United
States, but have become controversial. American Indians have presented
three kinds of argument against the term. The first is that it is derived
from a Mohawk word for the female genitalia. Linguistic data show, however,
that it is actually a Massachusett word for ‘woman’. A second argument
presented is that ‘squaw’ has been used derogatorily by whites toward
Indian women. This argument is supported weakly by literary documents, but
more strongly by frontier memoirs and journalistic writing. The  third
argument is that ‘squaw’ is offensive to Indians, in the same way that
‘nigger’ is offensive to African Americans. This raises the question of
‘politically correct’ vocabulary, or in broader terms, the sociolinguistic
question of the ideological values of words; in this context, subjective
associations are as important as objective ones.

Full Linguistics @:

More information about the Endangered-languages-l mailing list