"Nappy-headed who'es" redux

Tom Dalzell slangman at PACBELL.NET
Tue May 15 17:21:42 UTC 2007

Reinhold Aman has written on the same subject:


Tom Dalzell

Wilson Gray wrote:

> 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."
> -Wilson
> --
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -----
>                                              -Sam'l Clemens
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list