the n word: on its way out?
debaron at UIUC.EDU
Wed Mar 7 23:56:52 UTC 2007
There's a new post on the Web of Language:
The n-word: on its way out?
The New York City Council has called for a symbolic moratorium on the
use of the “N” word, joining a growing movement to ban a word
inextricably associated with racism and hate. Angry over Michael
Richards’ explosive use of the word, and disturbed by its popularity
among those African Americans who put a positive spin on it as a term
of solidarity or endearment, black leaders like Jesse Jackson are
also calling for a ban; Ebony and Jet magazines will drop the n-word
from their pages; and at least one African American comedian has
pulled it from his routines. ... This isn’t the first attempt to ban
the n-word, which has become for everyone but rap artists or white
supremacists the most offensive of our linguistic taboos. ...
Speakers who don’t like such words have a number of options. They
can call for bans. They can cajole and shame others into abandoning
the taboo terms. The comedian George Carlin once advocated using bad
words over and over until their effect is blunted. After all, the
more we hear something, the less it means, ...Maybe the best way to
disappear a word from the language is not to ban it or reverse its
polarity, but to render it useless. .... the American social
profile is also changing in ways that are rendering traditional
racial and ethnic categories less significant, and the gradual and
inevitable blurring and mixing of who we are may ultimately have more
of an impact on negative racial slurs than concerted efforts to ban
or blunt them.
Read the whole post on the Web of Language.
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
read the Web of Language:
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
More information about the Ads-l