Assorted Comments

Sarah Lang slang at UCHICAGO.EDU
Tue May 22 19:12:59 UTC 2007

[Off-topic comment out of the way: This is perhaps a ignorant
question--perhaps the info is listed elsewhere--but what are the
demographics of the contributors to this listserv?]

Clearly, yes, ghetto has a very particular cultural history. But
currently, within NA, unless contextualized, it no longer defaults to
"(Jewish)" ghetto."

As for slum, personally I would say "dive" or "den." It I were going
to talk about "the slums" I may say that the area was "sketch(y)." If
I wanted to refer to projects or row-housing, I would use those
particular terms.

I would still use it as a verb though.


On May 22, 2007, at 1:01 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Assorted Comments
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> ---------
> Amen, Larry. BTW, thinking about an old friend, what ever happened to
> "slum"? [There''s a pun. "Thinking About an Old Friend" is the title
> of a Texas blues.]
> -Wilson
> On 5/21/07, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
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>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: Assorted Comments
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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>> At 3:10 PM -0700 5/21/07, James A. Landau wrote:
>>> I remember reading a report Jack London wrote about the 1906 San
>>> Francisco earthquake in which
>>> he used "ghetto" to mean segregated housing for people of a social
>>> class---I don't think
>>> he meant blacks, my vague recollection is Irish workmen. Nowadays,
>>> except in figurative
>>> or historical contexts, "ghetto" exclusively means a type of
>>> African-American community.
>>> It would be interesting to track down how the change in connatation
>>> reflects changes in
>>> politics and public perception.
>> The earlier reference, and perhaps still the salient one then, would
>> have been for restricted districts for Jews, such as the eponymous
>> ones in Italy.
>> LH
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