Doug Harris cats22 at FRONTIERNET.NET
Wed May 2 22:04:21 UTC 2007

Whoops! You gotta be careful lest you might insult someone: Carbon copy?
What color's carbon?
Now if someone were to find _that_ offensive, might that put the breaks
on carbon dating?
Jest wandering.
(the other) doug

I haven't heard "nigger-rig"  for a shoddy, ad hoc effort (maybe I don't get
out enough), but it reminds me of another ethnic work standard:  "Chinese
copy".  After WWII, the US began rocketry experiments at White Sands with
captured German V-2s.  When the supply of captured rockets ran out,
down-to-the-last-rivet exact copies were manufactured.  Nowadays we might
say "reverse-engineered".  Back in the '70s I would have said "carbon-copy",
but my department head at the National Air & Space Museum  called them
"Chinese copies".  I can't say I've heard it since, and I have assumed it
was a generational thing (he was of the WWII generation), but Google finds
lots of current hits.

Seán Fitzpatrick

The American Dialect Society -

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