Michael Newman mnewman at QC.EDU
Sun Dec 9 16:48:10 UTC 2001

>I'm afraid I made things worse, not better, by pointing out that I'm used
>to talking about words in the classroom  even when they are words I don't
>use when speaking in my own voice.  (I offered the examples of "fuck" and
>"shit" -- words I would not consider using in a classroom UNLESS I was
>considering them as words rather than using them as expressions of my
>feelings.)  I pointed out that it is literally true that Malinowski used
>the word "nigger" in his diaries, and I was referring to that fact, not
>joining him in his application of the word.  I said that was precisely why
>I could NOT recommend that students use that book for the purposes of my

  I'm not sure that self criticism is appropriate. It was the student
who was unreasonable and illogical, and fortunately she evidently
came to see that she reacted inappropriately and didn't cause further
problems.  It is necessary to sensitive to others'  responses to
language in classrooms.  It is also necessary to realize the history
of dehumanization and pain that goes into the power of the word

But what offends can be hard to anticipate, and if we are being
professional, then inappropriate responses by students are not our

On the article, I am struck by the fact that the contemporary use of
the r-less version to mean "dude" (discussed a month or so ago) is
mentioned only in a confused and incomplete way. It is only the r-ful
version that retains a racial sense among most inner city kids.
Michael Newman
Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics
Dept. of Linguistics and Communication Disorders
Queens College/CUNY
Flushing, NY 11367

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