Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Sep 19 15:11:40 UTC 2007

On 9/19/07, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at csli.stanford.edu> wrote:
> On Sep 19, 2007, at 7:04 AM, Jim Parish wrote:
> > Wilson Gray wrote:
> >> Surely, "jig(aboo)" = black, colored, Negro, African-American, etc,.
> >> etc., has not been
> >> resurrected?! I don't think that I've ever heard it in the wild. I
> >> know it only from literature and the movies. Or am I mistaken in
> >> assuming that it ever died, in the first place?
> >
> > I heard it used around 1970, by a person who had been born in the late
> > 1940s. I haven't heard it since, though.
> even back in the 60s it sounded rather quaint:
> Colored Spade (from Hair -- opened on Broadway in 1968)
> I'm a
> Colored spade
> A nigra
> A black nigger
> A jungle bunny
> Jigaboo coon
> Pickaninny mau mau

More recently, from Public Enemy's "Burn Hollywood Burn" (on the 1990
album "Fear of a Black Planet"), but still in a historical context:

Big Daddy Kane:
As I walk the streets of Hollywood Boulevard
Thinkin how hard it was to those that starred
In the movies portrayin the roles
Of butlers and maids, slaves and hos.
Many intelligent black men seemed
To look uncivilized when on the screen.
Like I guess I figure you to play some jigaboo
On the plantation, what else can a nigger do?

--Ben Zimmer

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

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