Nappy-headed Hos (Was: "Nappy-headed who'es" redux)

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Sat May 19 21:30:21 UTC 2007

Evidence that we might want to consider moderating this list?

At 03:04 PM 5/19/2007, you wrote:
>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       "Reinhold (Rey) Aman" <aman at SONIC.NET>
>Organization: The International Maledicta Society
>Subject:      Re: Nappy-headed Hos (Was: "Nappy-headed who'es" redux)
>Wilson Gray wrote:
>Nota bene:  Top-posting is amateurish and makes it difficult for the
>reader to follow the argument.  Adding one's comments after each
>paragraph referred to is the standard, intelligent, and *considerate*
>way, as I'm doing it below.  (But you know that, of course.)  Because
>of your top-posting, the reader has to scroll way down to my post to
>see what your remarks are about and then scroll back up to continue.
>Good job, but worse than in Burkina Faso.
> > Given that [hoz] is the usual Black-English pronunciation of "whores,"
> > i.e. the same as the ordinary pronunciation minus the [r], I choose to
> > spell it the ordinary way minus the "r."
>Spelling it "who'es" is too idiosyncratic; it looks like it should be
>pronounced /'hu,iz/ (rhyming with "lues").  If the reader has to
>figure out what that weird word could mean and how to pronounce it,
>old-fashioned and pedantic editors and language teachers like me
>consider such quirky spellings "particularly stupid."  Nothing
>personal, of course.  Even the smartest ones among us occasionally do
>stupid things.
> > I'm quite flattered that you and, presumably, the International
> > Maledicta Society, regard it as "yet another particularly stupid way
> > of writing 'hos',"
>No, just me.  There are a handful of long-time _Maledicta_ subscribers
>and member of our society among the ADS-L regulars, but I don't speak
>for them.  However, since they belong to the intellectual élite, they
>will no doubt agree with me.
> > given the special respect that we here at ADS-L have for
> > prescriptivism.
>Between you and I, I dont care alot what the semiliterate
>laissez-faire crowd and it's defender's think of we prescriptivist's.
>Its there problem if they wanna look iggerant. LOL.
> > Besides, I never would have thought that such a triviality was worth
> > a comment.
>Your eccentric spelling of "hos" may be a triviality to you, but it's
>a _hapax legomenon_ to me.
> > I aasume thhat the spellings, "hoes," "hoez," "hose," "hoze," etc.
> > you and the IMS would also find to be particularly stupid ways of
> > writing [hoz].
>Not at all.  They are just attempts of representing the BE
>pronunciation of "whores."  Of all the variants I have seen (including
>"hoe's" and "ho'z"), you are the only one who uses the misleading <w>
>and <'es>.  That's why I correctly characterized it as "particularly stupid."
> > Please know that I'm quite pleased to take full credit for anything
> > that I post. If I gave the impression that I was quoting someone else
> > without proper attribution, I apologize.
>You certainly gave the impression that you quoted from the _Boston
>Globe_ and thereby besmirched that journalist's reputation.  That's
>why I asked about who wrote what.
>And here's a good example why top-posting is bad:
> > As for your poiinting out that "X-to-Y' should have read "Y-to-X,"
> > you are, needless to say, entirely correct.
>Unless the reader remembers what I wrote (unlikely) or scrolled down
>to find out what this could be about (also unlikely), your _mea culpa_
>is meaningless.  Always remember:  top-posting sucks.
> > As for the claim that such European translations would retranslate
> > into "handkerchief-head(ed)," and not "nappy-headed," in the
> > black-American sense, that is mine and mine alone.
>Thank you for acknowledging this major mistake as yours and clearing
>the _Globe_ journalist.
> > So, virtually the entire world is concerned specifically with the
> > shape, condition, or cleanliness of "hair" or to the level of
> > education of black athletes. Who'd have thought it?
>All the incompetent translators and journalists who had never heard of
>"nappy-headed" before, and now also their misled readers worldwide.
> > Please allow me to point out that when I wrote "close enough / good
> > enough for government work," I naturally assumed that my readers would
> > understand that I did not intend to give the impression that I was
> > referring to work done for any particular government,
>That phrase normally refers to the U.S. Government.
> > even for one as laughably ignorant and unworthy of notice as that of
> > some sub-Saharan, black-African backwater.
>Who says the government workers in Ouagadougou are laughably ignorant
>and unworthy of notice?  I even gave them credit for being smart
>enough to reject your "translation of the European terms back to
>U.S.-English yields American-BE 'handkerchief-head(ed)'."  They may be
>black, but they ain't stupid, you know.
> > I didn't provide any kind of citation other than the name of the
> > newspaper because it seemed to me unlikely that anyone would find
> > either the original article or my interpretation of it of sufficient
> > academic interest to be worth even so trivial an amount of effort.
> > Enough time had passed between the publication of the article and my
> > post that it seemed to me that anyone who really cared about the
> > topic would already have found the article and read it for himself.
>Okay, good enough excuse.
> > I did, and I have no real interest in the topic.
>Hmmm, and I was under the impression that this topic is right up your
>alley (I've been lurking in ADS-L for years), with you posting your
>fancy interpretation of Jan Freeman's information and even conjuring
>up non-existing British journalists and bandannas.
> > Since you've found that post to nothing but wild assumptions and
> > unsupported claims, it would probably not be worth my while or your
> > time to submit my collected works to you for refereeing, in hopes of
> > having them published by some academic press.
>Au contraire, mon frère.  If your collected works are anything like
>your post, the typical cacademic peer reviewer would be delighted to
>recommend your oeuvre to, say, Slippery Rock University of
>Pennsylvania Press, provided you use many more neologisms, wacky new
>spellings, and especially much turgid bullshit.
>I do appreciate your appreciation of my analytical and editorial
>skills, but as for I (is this anti-prescriptivist enuff?), I'm too old
>and worn out after having written or edited and typeset more than
>3,600 polyglot pages to take on new books.
>In fact, I'm in the process of burying the belovèd _Maledicta_ killed
>by the Internet, by hordes of obsessed short-attention-span posters
>and URL-to-URL-hopping click-click-clickers, and by zillions of
>language-oriented professors too cheap to spend a few bloody bucks to
>buy beautiful books.  But I digress.
> > Thanks to your excellent and thoroughgoiing critique, I've probably
> > lost any chance of being so much as mentioned by any serious academic.
> > Well, that's the breaks.
>Don't give up hope, my friend.  If you flatter those cacademic
>attention-who'es, you may still end up as a footnote in a 12-page
>peer-reviewed article produced with the help of five teaching
>assistants and a $200,000 government grant.
> > -Wilson
>Pax vobiscum,
>~~~ Reinhold (Rey) Aman ~~~
> > On 5/18/07, ment Reinhold (Rey) Aman wrote:
> > > [Note: The ADS-L server is rejecting my reply to the post quoted
> > > below, thus this new thread. Sorry.]
> > >
> > > On 15 May 2007, Wilson Gray wrote:
> > > > "Nappy-headed who'es" redux
> > > Questions:
> > >
> > >    (1) Is "who'es" a double-typo or yet another particularly stupid
> > > way of writing "hos"?
> > >    (2) Is the quoted material below copied verbatim from the _Boston
> > > Globe_ or is it paraphrased by the above poster?
> > >    (3) What material is from the _Globe_ and what are Mr. Gray's
> > > comments?  The ADS-L reader can't tell who wrote what. It looks like
> > > his text quoted below is mostly fancy commentary and extrapolation
> > > based on Jan Freeman's accurate "Brainiac" piece.
> > > > 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.
> > > Says who?  The _Globe_ or Gray?  Apparently only if one disregards
> > > Hungarian, Austro-Bavarian, Croatian, Turkish, Norwegian, Swedish,
> > > Dutch, and other European languages, all of which have adjectives
> > > that distinguish between tightly curled (Negroid) hair and loosely
> > > curled hair; e.g., German _kraushaarig_ and _kräuselhaarig_ vs.
> > > _lockig_.
> > > > 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,"
> > > Says who?  The _Globe_ or Gray?  Which British journalists have
> > > decided that nonsense or have written about it?
> > > > 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.
> > > Or rather, they checked their British-English-to-native-language
> > > dictionaries, since they had to look up the English word "nappy."
> > > > That is to say, translation of the European terms back to
> > > > U.S.-English yields American-BE "handkerchief-head(ed)."
> > > Says who?  The _Globe_ or Gray?  Sorry, they do *not* yield
> > > "handkerchief-head(ed)."  In my extensive research, I've found only
> > > one each Swedish, French, and Italian translator/journalist who used
> > > "diaper-headed" in their languages (_blöjhövdade, tête de couche,
> > > pannolini in testa_); all others, from China via Europe to Brazil,
> > > referred specifically to the shape, condition or cleanliness of
> > > *hair* or to the level of education and social class of the black
> > > athletes, but *not* to any type of cloth (bandanna/handkerchief/
> > > diaper) worn on their heads.
> > > > This strikes me as close / good enough for government work.
> > > This is not even good enough for government work in Burkina Faso.
> > >
> > > Finally, there was a reference to the source on which that _Globe_
> > > piece is based, but why did the poster not mentioned it, so that
> > > interested ADS-Lers could see for themselves what those mistrans-
> > > lations were about?  (Thanks, Arnold and Tom, for posting the URLs.)
> > >
> > > Jan Freeman of the _Boston Globe_ was the first journalist to alert
> > > her word-loving fans to my long post on "Language Log." Her blog and
> > > the printed "Brainiac" piece are accurate; Mr. Gray's comments,
> > > however, are wild assumptions and flawed, unsupported claims.
> > >
> > > --
> > > Reinhold (Rey) Aman*
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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