"Nappy-headed who'es" redux

Doug Harris cats22 at FRONTIERNET.NET
Tue May 15 16:24:25 UTC 2007

Odd, isn't it,that the original remark referred to women and hair, while the
male of the species is better known for the do-nothing 'do rag' hair cover.
(the other) doug

Wilson  wrote:

      "Nappy-headed who'es" redux

The Boston Globe's language maven has an interesting discussion of
European attempts to translate the "nappy-" in "nappy-headed."
Apparently, no European language has a term that corresponds in
meaning to the American use of "nappy" as a descriptor of human hair.
Briefly, Britspeak has "nappy" as "covered with nap" or as a slang
term for "napkin" as the equivalent of U.S. "diaper." Hence, British
journalists have decided that "nappy-headed" means something like
"wearing a diaper-like cloth, such as a bandanna, as a headdress,"
cf., e.g. the old Aunt-Jemima, fact-based stereotype. Continental
journalists, following their British peers and their own
native-language-to-British-English dictionaries, have done the same.

That is to say, translation of the European terms back to U.S.-English
yields American-BE "handkerchief-head(ed)." This strikes me as close /
good enough for government work.

FWIW, BE-speakers can use 'nap(s)" to mean "the hair on one's head."

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

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